"La fleur"

The flower

The flower that you threw to me
stayed with me in my prison.
Withered and dried up,
that flower always kept its sweet perfume;
and for hours at a time,
with my eyes closed,
I became drunk with its smell
and in the night I used to see you!
I took to cursing you, detesting you,
asking myself why did destiny
have to throw her across my path?

Then I accused myself of blasphemy,
and felt within myself,
I felt but one desire,
one desire, one hope: to see you again, Carmen,
to see you again!
For you had only to appear,
only to throw a glance my way,
to take possession of my whole being,
O my Carmen, and I was your chattel!
Carmen, I love you!

Bizet’s Carmen is one of the most popular and familiar operas. When Bizet created Carmen, he broke operatic convention by celebrating proletarian and immoral ways of life. He also vividly brought to life the character of Carmen (almost a side note in the original story) as a complex, proud and spirited woman who strove at every turn to claim independence and agency in her life, love and friendships.

In this aria, it is clear that José's love for Carmen is tipping towards an obsessive – and ultimately destructive –  passion.

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