Habanera is a music genre that originated in Cuba, around the 19th century. It later spread to the Spanish colonies and subsequently landed in Europe.
The Habanera is one of the most popular soprano arias from theopera Carmen. This arias by distinguished French composer Georges Bizet when translated to English mean ‘Love is a rebellious bird’ and in the original French version it is ‘L ‘amour est un oiseau rebelle’ The origin of the song was unknown to Bizet since it was belief that it was a folk song. Later Bizet added a note to the original song and gave full credit to the original composer of the song. Bizet had unknowingly taken the song from a popular cabaret habanera ‘El Arreglito’ by Sebastian Yradier (Sebastian Iradier Salaverri) a Basque Composer also known for the song La Paloma. The composer had died ten years prior to Bizet using the piece of song.
In Georges Bizet’s Habanera, the arias, has lyrics expressing love through a scale that descends chromatically along with phrases in both the minor and major keys.
It is said that the aria Habanera is the sexiest music ever composed.
This aria not only required a singer who can sing mezzo-soprano but who also has the temperament of the character Carmen. She shall be able to put fear into the minds of even the most daring seducers!
Sadly enough Bizet did not enjoy the success of the opera Carmen as he died three months after the opening of the opera on June 3rd 1875.
When Carmen was staged in London Habanera then sung by Ms. Trebelli captivated the audience there. In fact the English had not heard about Bizet before and was an unknown composer.
This aria has even been performed on Sesame Street bringing it to children as well.
Featured in a film in 1985, which was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes, it stared Placido Domingo and Julia Migenes.
‘The Odd Couple’ a popular serial also featured this aria.
Maria Callas has sung Habanera and given perhaps the best performance of the Habanera in modern times along with Angela Gheorghiu.
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