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Habanera is the popular name for the aria "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" (Love is a rebellious bird) from Georges Bizet's 1875 opera Carmen. It is the entrance aria of the title character, a mezzo-soprano role, in scene 5 of the first act. The vocal range covers D4 to F♯5 with a tessitura from D4 to D5.
The score of this aria was adapted from the habanera "El Arreglito", originally composed by the Spanish musician Sebastián Yradier. Bizet thought it to be a folk song; when others told him he had used something that had been written by a composer who had died only ten years earlier, he had to add a note to the vocal score of Carmen, acknowledging its source.
The French libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. It is based on a descending chromatic scale followed by variants of the same phrase in first the minor and then the major key, corresponding to the vicissitudes of love expressed in the lyrics.
Lyrics in parentheses are sung by the chorus.
- Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed. 1954
- Text and translation at Aria-Database.com. The translation is a literal one that prioritizes preservation of the meaning of individual words over both idiomatic rendering in the destination language and conformity to meter and syllabic stress. For instance, the phrase prends garde à toi! is translated there as keep guard of yourself, whereas the translation watch out! might better capture the tone of the original at some expense to literal meaning, watch out! Beware! might do the same with greater fidelity to meter at the expense of redundancy in literal meaning, and be on your guard! might preserve fidelity to meter and most fidelity to literal meaning at the expense of using a different grammatical construction and slightly changing the tone of the command.
- Habanera: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Free sheet music of Habanera for voice & piano from Cantorion.org
- El Arreglito: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project