Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Open Access
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Modern Languages and Literatures
Robert A. St. Clair
James I. Armstrong
Through investigative research, this thesis examines the transition from Alfred de Musset’s poem Namouna (1832) and Prosper Mérimée’s novella Carmen (1845) to the operas by Georges Bizet that they inspired (Djamileh  and Carmen , respectively). When the two literary works were published, not much controversy ensued over them or their exotic subject matter. Nearly half a century later, however, the debuts of both of Bizet’s operas were poorly received, to say the least. I highlight what changed between the works, not just structurally, but contextually as well. The operas obviously were altered vastly in format during their transition from literary work, but they were also presented to a different audience than their sources, and in a different social and political climate. I believe a combination of change in medium and change in historical atmosphere caused Bizet’s works (with the topics mostly unchanged) to be accepted much less readily than their earlier textual counterparts, and that the representations of the exotic “other” so realistically portrayed in his operas were unsettling to the socially elite Parisian opera audience, perhaps because it brought the distant “other” a bit too close in their consciousness.
Santini, Maria E., "The Allure and Scandal of Otherness in the Operas of Georges Bizet and their Source Texts" (2014). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 108.
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