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René Jacobs’ conducts the original version of “Carmen”

In March 2024 René Jacobs performed Georges Bizet’s masterpiece in Antwerp, Paris, Dortmund, Cologne, Hamburg and Madrid for the first time in the original version. These performances of the 1874 first version have attracted wide attention and been hailed as “sensational”. The version is virtuosic, highly dramatic, without pathos or pomp, and tragic as well as comic. The recording of the semi-staged performance in the Elbphilharmonie on 25 March with B’Rock Orchestra and soloists including Gaëlle Arquez and Sabine Devieilhe is now available online for a year.

In the first version of “Carmen”, recently published by Bärenreiter-Verlag, it is possible to experience the character of the work as an “opéra comique”, a simple “Singspiel”. According to the editor Paul Prévost, for the first time the “fruit of Bizet’s creative imagination, before external interventions and the experience during rehearsals and the production influenced his thinking,” is tangible. In this new critical edition Prévost has included the three first versions of the opera and documented the later transformation of the work. (photo R. Jacobs: Philippe Matsas)

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