This Suite from Bizet's tragic opera Carmen has five movements. It begins with a Prelude, where a foreboding “Fate” melody hints at Carmen's demise. The remainder of this suite is more lighthearted. The second movement is a dance from the countryside of Spain (Aragon), called an Aragonaise, with a driving triple rhythm. The Intermezzo, prelude to the third act, is a pastoral mountain scene, where Don Jose and Carmen have fled, seeking refuge with smugglers. The Séguedille, is originally an aria in which Carmen, under arrest for disorderly conduct, sings to Don Jose, about how she would go to her friend’s place to dance the Séguedille, “with a new lover,” that is, with Don Jose. Her seduction is successful and he sets her free.
Before abandoning his post to run away with Carmen, Don Jose was commanding officer for the foot soldiers (Les Dragons d’Alcala), whose sentry pacing is evoked in this next movement. The Finale is actually the opening music from the overture.
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