A l’Opéra de Paris, « Carmen » sombre dans la vulgarité

Desservie par une mise en scène grotesque et une distribution approximative, la production de Calixto Bieito déçoit.

This week in French class we’re learning about the imperfect tense and it’s use in describing a situation or recounting a story.  I decided to look for instances of the imperfect tense in a French publication called, Le Monde, and found a review of Bizet’s Carmen at the Palais Garnier.CARMEN -

J’ai entendu parler de…

call my agentFrench immersion is tricky when you live in a place where you must communicate en anglais.  I began by listening to a free podcast called, “Coffee Break French” whenever I was alone in the car or taking a walk and moved through over sixty episodes, I think.  Recently I began listening to some podcasts produced by Michel Thomas that I purchased on iTunes.

The goal is to incrementally increase the time that you hear spoken French. Use media to your advantage:  TuneIn Radio is a great resource for French-language programming.  Or try the French television series, “Call My Agent” on Netflix.  It’s a fun show – now in it’s third season –  about a top talent agency in Paris that works 24/7 for its celebrity clients.




Mai (Opus 1, no. 2)

Fauré set this Victor Hugo text around 1862 while he was still a student at l’Ecole Niedermeyer.  “Mai” was new to me, and most likely not a song that I’ll revisit; the melody and voice leading are not as fetching as those in Fauré’s other songs.  Pianist and author Graham Johnson (Gabriel Fauré:  The Songs and their Poets) believes that the original key of A flat major is unflattering for most sopranos and I tend to agree.  However, Dover has published “Mai” in the key of F for those who are seeking a more inviting tessitura.

“Mai” is rich in new vocabulary pertaining to nature:  la campagne (country), la terre (earth/ground), les bois (the woods), le rayonnement (the radiance) and épanouir (to blossom).


Puis-que mai tout en fleurs dans les prés nous réclame,

Viens!  ne te lasse pas de mêler a ton âme.

La campagne, les bois, les ombrages charmants,

Les larges clairs de lune au bord des flots dormants,

Le sentier qui finit où le chemin commence,

Et l’air et le printemps et l’horizon immense,

L’horizon que ce monde attache humble et joyeux

Comme un lèvre au bas de la robe des cieux!

Viens! et que le regard de pudiques étoiles

Qui tombe sur la terre à travers tant de voiles,

Que l’arbre pénétré de parfums et de chants,

Que le souffle embrasé de midi dans les champs,

Et l’ombre et le soleil et l’onde et la verdure,

Et le rayonnement de toute la nature

Fassent épanouir, comme une double fleur,

La beauté sur ton front et l’amour dans ton coeur!