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Georges Bizet


Born into a family of professional musicians, Bizet started studying at a conservatory at the age of ten. His composition teacher was J. F. Halévy. In a competition invited by J. Offenbach in 1857 he and Charles Lecocq received an award for their one-act opera buffa Le Docteur Miracle, and in the same year Bizet won the Prix de Rome, which made possible his stay in Italy (1858–1860). During his time in Rome he wrote the opera Don Procopio (which was only discovered thirty years later), as well as two symphonies and a concerto overture. After returning from Italy, Bizet lived in Paris. In addition to composing operas, he also wrote occasional and stage music. He also taught music for a while. Georges Bizet wrote more than twenty operas, yet only a few have been preserved: Les pêcheurs de perles (1863), Djamileh (1871) and, above all, Carmen (1875), which, despite flopping at its premiere (it was deemed too indecent for Opera Comique), was later to become (and still is) one of the most successful music theatre titles worldwide. In 1875 it was performed in Vienna, the next year in Brussels, Antwerp and Budapest, and in 1878 (in Italian) in St. Petersburg, Stockholm, London, New York, etc. Carmen had its (German-language) Prague premiere in 1880, and on 3 January 1884 was first performed in Eliška Krásnohorská’s Czech translation.