For this essay, I have chosen the opera Carmen written by Georges Bizet. The opera was first performed on March 3rd, 1875 at the Opera-Comique in Paris. The opera has a four-act structure and is ultimately about love and tragedy. At first, audiences didn’t care for it. “Ventured applaud here and there. The quintet and the Toreador’s Song made a favorable impression, and the prelude of the second Act was encored. Beyond this, approval did not go, the curtain falling upon what could be called, at best, a success of esteem.” (musicwithease.com)
The French crowd was not use to these types of performances, and the story itself fell far outside many conservatives views of the time. The piece was considered a bust at first. As time went on people were still going to see it with little expectations. Eventually, as the opera traveled it started to gain popularity outside of France. This is what made the opera what it is today. “It was really with the first performance (in Italian) of the opera in England that the now enormous popularity of “Carmen’ may be said to have begun.” (musicwithease.com) The opera now is one of the most prevalent operas in the world.
While I was watching this piece the idea of contrast was very prevalent. I say this in regard to both the story which bases around different classes of people working class, military, gypsies, and matadors and the overall production. Firstly there is a heavy representation of people in this opera at times having sixty or so characters represented on stage at once. Among this, there is a difference of representation of a social structure. Carmen who is herself a gypsy is the desire of different male characters and finally falls for Jose´ a military man. There is a mixture of culture in this opera without a clear line being drawn between any of the characters.
They all interact with each-other quite openly. The Production goes through different points of color expression which is I believe is linked to the mood of the act. I say this meaning the costumes and set design chance from dark to very vibrant colors. The first act itself uses a fence to divide the stage and the act seems and is represented in darker settings. Even though this is when Carmen meets Jose´ for the first time. Which I think may be foreshadowing of their relationship throughout the opera. Ultimately I think of these contrasts are a great plot device to help create depth in the opera and mood.
The performance I watched didn’t include anything too mesmerizing when it came to the technology used. Mostly the dazzle comes from the elaborate set design and costume design. The sets include the town square witch in the production I viewed was separated by an iron fence that ran across the stage. This was a good metaphor to show the physical separation of the new lovers Carmen and Jose´. The opera also had a bullfighting arena where Carmen is ultimately murdered by her later scorned lover Jose´ and is quite colorful. The bull is represented by a small pushcart with horns on it, which I feel is very useful and serves its purpose. Overall it is a beautiful production one with rich artistry and powerful music.
I think the timeless love story has made it even relevant today. The story is one that is timelessly relatable, even if the details may vary. Everyone likes a good love story and even more so people love tragedy. Which is the fate of Carmen, pure tragedy, as she is murdered by her once lover. It is like Romeo and Juliet, love mixed with death, two things people can relate to. This mixed with music that is powerful and rich has kept the audiences enthralled with this opera for over 140 years. I believe that it will continue to attract people far into the future.
If I were going to design a video game based on this opera. I would focus on the bullfighting that is in the opera. Being that is where the action lays in the opera. It would be a game where you start as a young bullfighter learning the sport. As time passes, you become a better fighter and the game gets harder. With the bulls representing the opponent, and they become bigger and harder to fight. I would make the controls based on the different actions needed to dodge the attack of the bull. If the right keys aren’t pressed in time there would be consequences such as getting hit by the bull. If there are enough hits on you the matador, you get gored by the bull and die. Which leads to you getting sent back a certain amount of time, most likely before the fight you were killed in.
The game would have the features such as costume design. With the better outfits reserved for the higher level players. There will also be upgrades with weaponry such as the swords you can use. The ultimate goal of the game would be to become the best bullfighter in all the land. There would be different arenas to fight in as well, all based on the players level. Starting with practice school and ending with the largest bullfighting arenas in the world. At the end of the game once you have become the ultimate matador you get the love of the girl you tried to get throughout the story mode. There would also be a Bull Mode where you get to be the bull, with the goal of killing the matador. The setting of this game would be a mix of modern day and flashbacks when it comes to training your matador. I would probably call it Bullfight (current year) and it would be rated M for mature because of the gore represented throughout the game.