Friday, November 30, 2012

Preview: "Between us, everything is finished" (Carmen)

Olga Borodina and Marcelo Álvarez as Carmen and José (Act II)

by Ken

We've been working our way up to the final meeting of the free-spirited (but also doom-ridden) gypsy Carmen and her onetime soldier lover Don José. This week we get there.

We've got a lot of performances of chunks of this surprisingly compact climactic scene coming up, but I want to highlight in particular two statements that define the state of stalemate Carmen and José have reached by the start of Act IV of Bizet's Carmen.


FIRST HERE THEY ARE IN ENGLISH (OF A SORT) --

which, as we'll see in a moment, is only sort of what they actually say. (I don't want to make too much fun of Ramón Vinay's English, which after all is no less idiomatic than most of our original-language Josés' French. The Chilean tenor was a wonderfully intense and humane singer in some of opera's most demandingly heroic roles.)

DON JOSÉ: "I'm not threatening you"
[rendered here as "I have not come to harm you"]


[in English] Ramón Vinay (t), Don José; Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski, cond. Live performance, July 11, 1946

CARMEN says: "Between us, everything is finished"
[rendered here as: "For you and I, this is the end"]
DON JOSÉ says: "Carmen, there's still time! Yes, there's still time!"
[rendered here as: "Carmen, I cannot believe you! No, I cannot believe you!"]


[in English] Winifred Heidt (ms), Carmen; Ramón Vinay (t), Don José; Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski, cond. Live performance, July 11, 1946


NOW HERE THEY ARE IN FRENCH (OF A SORT), AND
IN CORRECT ORDER, AND WITH THE ACTUAL TEXT --

First José:
DON JOSÉ: I'm not threatening you; I'm imploring, I'm begging.
Our past, Carmen, our past, I'll forget it!
Yes, we are going -- both of us --
to start another life,
far from here, under other skies.

Franco Corelli (t), Don José; Vienna State Opera Chorus, Vienna Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan, cond. RCA/BMG, recorded November 1963

Now Carmen, and then José again:
CARMEN: You ask the impossible.
Carmen has never lied;
her soul remains inflexible.
Between her and you, everything is finished.
Never have I lied;
between us, everything is finished.
DON JOSÉ: Carmen, there's still time!
Yes, there's still time!
O my Carmen, let me
save you, you whom I adore!
Ah, let me save you,
and save myself with you!

Leontyne Price (s), Carmen; Franco Corelli (t), Don José; Vienna Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan, cond. RCA/BMG, recorded November 1963


FINALLY HERE'S THIS WHOLE LITTLE MORSEL
DON JOSÉ: I'm not threatening you, I'm imploring, I'm begging;
our past, Carmen, our past, I'll forget it!
Yes, we are going -- both of us --
to start another life,
far from here, under other skies.
CARMEN: You ask the impossible,
Carmen has never lied;
her soul remains inflexible.
Between her and you, everything is finished.
Never have I lied;
between us, everything is finished.
DON JOSÉ: Carmen, there's still time,
yes, there's still time.
O my Carmen, let me
save you, you whom I adore,
ah, let me save you,
and save myself with you.

Plácido Domingo (t), Don José; Julia Migenes-Johnson (s), Carmen; Orchestre National de France, Lorin Maazel, cond. Erato, recorded December 1982

Mario del Monaco (t), Don José; Risë Stevens (ms), Carmen; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Dimitri Mitropoulos, cond. Live performance, Jan. 12, 1957


IN THIS WEEK'S SUNDAY CLASSICS POST --

We'll take (I hope) a fairly close listen to the Carmen-José scene.
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