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The Portrait of Bizet’s Aria L’AMOUR EST UN OISEAU REBELLE

Read Interesting facts and hear great YouTube Videos about the famous Aria “‘L’amour est un oiseau rebelle”.


If you want to hear more about the opera Carmen, click on the link to the opera portrait


The Aria – Synopsis & Background


Synopsis: Carmen, a worker from the cigarette factory, steps onto the square in front of the factory. She is always surrounded by men and nothing is more boring for her than ingratiation. For her, love is a game (“L’amour est un oiseau rebelle”).

With the aria «L’amour est un oiseau rebelle» Bizet has painted a true character portrait of the role of Carmen.  Seldom has one of the great roles of opera literature been defined by only one aria, as it was Carmen with the Habanera.  The piece starts with the famous rhytm of the habanera and keeps steady throughout the aria. The aria shows the character of Carmen, for her love is a game with dangers inherent to it. It starts piano and the tone should be elegant and warm. It should never convey vulgarity ! The singers has to master the constant change of piano, forte and mezzaforter in seductive way. Never Carmen should sound dominant.


The Aria – the text of L’amour est un oiseau rebelle


L’amour est un oiseau rebelle
Que nul ne peut apprivoiser
Et c’est bien in vain qu’on l’appelle
S’il lui convient de refuser

Rien n’y fait, menace ou prière
L’un parle bien, l’autre se tait
Et c’est l’autre que je préfère
Il n’a rien dit mais il me plait

L’amour! L’amour! L’amour! L’amour!

L’amour est enfant de Bohême
Il n’a jamais jamais connu de loi
Si tou ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime
Si je t’aime, prends garde à toi!

Si tou ne m’aimes pas, si tou ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime
Mais si je t’aime, si je t’aime, prends garde à toi!

L’oiseau que tu croyais surprendere
Battit d’aile et s’envola
L’amour est loin, tu peux l’attendre
Tu ne l’attends pas, il est là

Tout atour de toi, vite vite
Il vient, s’en va, puis il revient
Tu crois le tenir, il t’evite
Tu crois l’eviter, il te tient

L’amour! L’amour! L’amour! L’amour!

L’amour est enfant de Bohême
Il n’a jamais jamais connu de loi
Si tou ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime
Si je t’aime, prends garde à toi!

Si tou ne m’aimes pas, si tou ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime
Mais si je t’aime, si je t’aime, prends garde à toi!



Vocal Fach «Dramatic mezzosoprano»


Carmen is written for a «Dramatic mezzosoprano». The dramatic mezzosoprano must have a strong, voluminous voice. The demand for vocal creativity is high, which is why these roles are usually entrusted to vocally mature and experienced singers. The role requires a high resilience and endurance of the singer.



Famous interpretations of L’amour est un oiseau rebelle

In the opera house the person of Carmen can be interpreted differently by the artist. Reason enough to go a little deeper with this piece and look at different interpretations of the habanera. You will find five different versions in the playlist.

We start with the interpretation by Maria Callas, whom I highly recommend to you. Maria Callas sang the Carmen only in concert. She would certainly have been a charming Carmen. Take a look at the concert excerpt. The facial expression reflects the music and then the stole slips off her shoulders. She knew how to play a role and win the audience over!

L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (1) –  Callas


The next interpretation is from the Latvian singer Elina Garanca. Carmen is her signature role. Beautifully sung and probably the most erotic of all Carmen recordings.

L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (2)  –  Garanca


Victoria de los Angeles (1923-2005) was a great Carmen of her time. As a native Spaniard she complained that many interpreters simply do not understand Spanish women. Carmen should be elegant, not crude and vulgar, she said, adding: «Even the common Gypsy women have a pride and reserve. They stay faithful to one man at a time, no matter what. That is my Carmen. » (NYT)

L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (3)  –  de los Angeles


A word on the 1907 recording of Calvé. Calvé, born in 1858, was the greatest Carmen of her time and was as admired as Maria Callas was in later years. «In 1891 she sang the premiere in an opera of Mascagni in Rome, where she met the castrato Mustafà, through whom she learned to form her «fourth» voice with the floating sounds» (Kesting). When she sang the gypsy for the first time – «Carmen which is pleasant only in bed and on her deathbed» (so Prosper Merimée, the writer of Carmen) – Henderson spoke of an ideal cast.

L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (4)  –  Calve


The fith and last interpretation is with Leontyne Price

L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (5)  –  Price




Peter Lutz, opera-inside, the online opera guide to L’amour est un oiseau rebelle from the opera Carmen





2 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Leontyne Price deserves much, much more than one sentence. She has been a trailblazer in her time for many others to follow. On a 1963 complete recording, Leontyne Price and conductor Herbert von Karajan provide “a probing, playful duet that nearly crosses the line from eroticism to parody,” writes David J. Baker. But “no one teases and plays with the text quite as irresistibly as [Maria Callas] on her 1964 complete recording,” writes Clive Paget. Neither Price nor Callas ever sang the part onstage. “Recordings can document and preserve a musical performance,” Baker continues, but “they can also invent a virtual experience, something of a fantasy by a singer who never played the role.”

  2. Nyadia Trenee' Thorpe
    Nyadia Trenee' Thorpe says:

    More than one sentence is needed for Leontyne Price. Her contributions to the art are vast. Her performance of this piece, as with Maria Callas, she never carried the role but recorded in concert. Her interpretation is intriguing and at times reminds one of a parody.


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