Re: CARMEN: Guiraud vs. Oeser
From: mailto:grndpadave@DOMAIN.HIDDEN
Date: 30 Jul 2005 01:13:49 -0700 20.
Stephen Jay-Taylor Jul 29, 10:17 pm show options Newsgroups:
From: "Stephen Jay-Taylor" <sjaytay...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> -
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Date: Sat, 30 Jul 2005 03:17:42 +0000 (UTC)
Local: Fri, Jul 29 2005 10:17 pm
Subject: Re: CARMEN: Guiraud vs. Oeser Reply | Reply to Author

I'm having trouble following some of the argument here. First, you set up "Guiraud vs. Oeser" in order to extoll the one and abuse the other, but all Oeser's material is pure, authentic BIZET, so you would be better to put "Guiraud vs. Bizet". Guiraud is the one doing the whole-sale re-writing, not Oeser, who simply attempted to reconstruct the original opera Bizet wrote, cut, saw into performance, and then cut some more. You say Guiraud was a pupil of Bizet ( implying he was well-placed to do the job.) But this is not true. They were born mere months apart, and Guiraud studied at the Conservatoire under Fromenthal Halévy (Guiraud's own father beat Berlioz to the 1827 Prix de Rome: Bizet won it in 1857; Guiraud Jnr. in 1859.)

You later state "Before Oeser, there were only two choices: Choudens (performed almost exclusively in French-speaking countries) and Guiraud." But they are one and the same, since Choudens are the publishers of the Guiraud edition. You offer an opinion "Had Bizet lived, I believe he would have replaced the dialogue with recitative just as Gounod did with respect to FAUST."

You have no reason to believe this other than your prejudice against the original version, and a WISH that he would have. But he didn't : Bizet wrote the opera he wanted to write, in the form he chose, and he would only have re-written it - as is the case with "Faust" - if there had been the possibilty of a Palais Garnier staging, absolutely inconceivable if you consider for an instant the insalubrious subject-matter and its treatment which would never have seen the light of day at the Grand Boutique at any point before 1920.

You are, of course, entitled to like what Guiraud did, and prefer it to Bizet's ACTUAL work, but it's entirely disingenuous to moan about the ineffectual dialogue and extra musical material of the Oeser edition without clearly acknowledging that that happens to be the work the composer wrote, not a rival "edition" with only spurious secondary claims on our attention.

And wherever do you get the idea that Solti's Decca recording favours "slower tempi" ? It goes like the clappers, and, as so often with Sir Georg, gets faster as it goes along : Act IV is incandescent ( and you should hear the Covent Garden staging the recording was based on, with Verrett even more flamboyant than Troyanos in the studio.)

I note that the Met has reverted to the souped-up version. Fine. Happily, this is not the case in London ; nor has it been for over thirty years, ever since Guiraud - glittering composer of such memorable fare as "Piccolino", "Le Kobold" and "Madame Turlupin" - was finally given the heave-ho, and Bizet's masterpiece given in the form that the composer intended. We're getting a new production, by Caurier and Leise, in 2007, and I think we can safely assume that EG will not be figuring in the scheme of things.

SJT, frappe-moi donc, ou laisse moi passer........ Chou

Fritz Oeser's edition simply is a compendium of all that Bizet provided, disregarding the cuts he made leading up to the world premiere.

To hear what Bizet actually presented, one would have to listen to Burgos' recording. Oeser's CARMEN is to Bizet's CARMEN, what the Modena 1886 version of DON CARLOS is to Verdi's DON CARLOS (as offered in the 1883/1884 edition prepared for Vienna but first performed at La Scala).

The version heard in Paris, prior to Oeser, used spoken dialogue. The music represented considerable editing, but did not include Guiraud's recitatives.

To speak of the form Bizet intended is pure speculation, since he died within months of the opera's premiere. Gounod replaced the dialogue with recitative not simply to accommodate the grand opera conventions, but for the world market.

That is the example I think Bizet would have followed.

Guiraud pretty much, imho, completed CARMEN in a manner analogous to Sussmayer's completion of Mozart's Requiem. You are free to prefer the Oeser edition. But that would be akin to offering a conflation of Beethoven's LEONORE (1805 and 1806) and FIDELIO (1814) and claiming that the result is what Beethoven intended.

==G/P Dave