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 Paris Conservatoire

1.

Georges Bizet was born in Paris on 25 October 1838. His father was a singing teacher and his mother was an accomplished pianist who gave Georges his first lessons. The Paris Conservatoire was so impressed by the boy’s abilities that it waived its age rule and offered him a place when he was nine!

 Bizet at 25

2.

Bizet was just 25 when The Pearlfishers opened at Théâtre Lyrique in Paris on 30 September 1863 and was his first performed production… impressive!

 

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3.

Recognize the music? The Pearlfishers Duet (Au fond du temple saint), is featured in the Peter Weir’s 1981 film, Gallipoli starring Mark Lee and Mel Gibson.

 

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4.

Bizet named his dog Zurga, after one of the principal characters in The Pearlfishers.

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5.

There are no complete scores of The Pearlfishers written by Bizet himself…opera houses now only attempt to perform them as he may have wanted…but no one will ever know!

 

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6.

In his short lifetime (36 years) Bizet composed 15 operas in total with his final piece, Carmen, becoming one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertoire.

 

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7.

Georges Bizet was actually born Alexandre César Léopold Bizet…but he preferred ‘Georges’.

 

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8.

During a brilliant student career at the Conservatoire de Paris, Bizet won many prizes, including the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1857 which allowed him to live in Rome for three to five years with all expenses paid…wouldn’t that be nice?

 

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9.

Bizet served as a National Guard in the Franco-Prussian War from 1870-71.

 

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10.

Despite a good reception by the public, Parisian critics and reviewers were generally hostile and dismissive of Bizet’s work on The Pearlfishers. Modern critical opinion however, has been kinder than that of Bizet’s day, acknowledging the opera as a work of promise in which Bizet’s gifts for melody and evocative instrumentation are clearly evident.

 

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