Two Names Taken as One

Carmen Dell’Orefice at Folies Bergère
 
 

Carmen Dell’Orefice at Folies Bergère, wearing a lace cocktail ensemble designed by Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior, photos by Richard Avedon for Harper’s Bazaar, 1957

 
 

Carmen is a unisex given name that represents two names taken as one. Its first (and original) root is Italian and Spanish, used as a diminutive nickname for Carmel and Carmelo (respectively), from Hebrew karmel, “God’s vineyard.” The second (and more recent) origin is from Latin carmen, which means “song,” “tune,” or “poem” and is also the root of the English word charm.

As a Spanish given name, it is usually part of the devotional compound names María del Carmen, Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Our Lady of Carmen) or Virgen del Carmen (in English Our Lady of Mount Carmel), stemming from the tradition of the vision of Mary the mother of Jesus on 16 July 1251 by Simon Stock, head of the Carmelite order.

 
 

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Sprinkled With So Many Coincidences

Peter Sellers plays Claire Quilty, a pompous hipster playwright, the alter ego and nemesis to James Mason’s lustful professor, Humbert Humbert. Lolita (Stanley Kubrick, 1962)

 
 

The novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is sprinkled with so many coincidences that it is hard to tell when coincidence stops and fate begins. In this work, coincidence and fate are fraternal twins. Whether the reader picks up Lolita for second, third, or three hundred and forty-second reading, hidden little treasures of coincidences and connections spring out from their carefully selected hiding places.

Humbert Humbert has a first love experience when he is young with Annabel Leigh. (the character was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe‘s poem, Annabel Lee). It is a strange coincidence that  Humbert and his Annabell  also have their first romantic encounter by the Mediterranean. After her young tragic death, Humbert cannot get over his infatuation with young girls. However, it is not just any kind of young girl that he pines for. It is a strange breed, the breed of nymphet. When Lolita, the very embodiment of nymphets, first enters the scene, she peers over her sunglasses at Humbert. The sunglasses are a strange connection between Lolita and Annabel Lee. “Half-naked, kneeling, turning about on her knees, there was my Riviera love peering at me over dark glasses” . Lolita is a reincarnation of Humbert’s first love.

In Lolita, the name is used in reference to Mr. Clare Quilty, the man who takes Lolita from Humbert. Carmen and Clare being both male and female names, Lolita uses them to deceive Humbert into thinking he is a woman and no threat.

Several times throughout the novel, Humbert refers to Lolita as his Carmen.
“O my Carmen, my little Carmen!
Something something those something nights,
And the stars, and the cars, and the bars and the barmen-
And, O my charmin’, our dreadful fights.
And the something town where so gaily, arm in
Arm we went, and our final row,
And the gun I killed you with, O my Carmen,
The gun I am holding now”

This song that Humbert recaptures here sums up his relationship with Lolita: their fights, car rides, men looking eagerly at her, and finally the gun that Humbert uses to kill Quilty.

There are a host of more passing literary allusions in Lolita, but they decorate rather than determine the death bound tragedy set by Poe, Proper Mérimée’s Carmen with other tales of love and revenge, and doppelgänger stories.

Love Is A Rebellious Bird

Georges Bizet’s manuscript of Habanera

 
 

Habanera, the popular name for L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Love is a rebellious bird), is one of the most famous arias 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 score of this aria was adapted from the habanera El Arreglito (The Little Arrangement), 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.

 
 

Emilie Ambre in the role of Carmen in Bizet’s opera of the same name. Painting by Edouard Manet, c. 1879

 
 

Quand je vous aimerai? (When will I love you?)
Ma foi, je ne sais pas, (Good Lord, I don’t know,)
Peut-être jamais, peut-être demain. (Maybe never, maybe tomorrow.)
Mais pas aujourd’hui, c’est certain! (But not today, that’s for sure!)

L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Love is a rebellious bird)
Que nul ne peut apprivoiser, (That none can tame,)
Et c’est bien en vain qu’on l’appelle, (And it is well in vain that one calls it)
S’il lui convient de refuser. (If it suits him to refuse)
Rien n’y fait, menace ou prière; (Nothing to be done, threat or prayer.)
L’un parle bien, l’autre se tait, (The one talks well, the other is silent;)
Et c’est l’autre que je préfère; (And it’s the other that I prefer)
Il n’a rien dit mais il me plaît. (He says nothing but he pleases me.)…

…L’amour est l’enfant de Bohême, (Love is a gypsy’s child,)
Il n’a jamais, jamais connu de loi; (It has never, never known the law;)
Si tu ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime; (If you do not love me, I love you;)
Si je t’aime, prends garde à toi! (If I love you, take guard yourself)…

…L’oiseau que tu croyais surprendre (The bird you hoped to catch)
Battit de l’aile et s’envola. (Beat its wings and flew away)
L’amour est loin, tu peux l’attendre; (Love is far, you can wait for it)
Tu ne l’attends plus, il est là. (You no longer await it, there it is)
Tout autour de toi, vite, vite, (All around you, swift, swift,)
Il vient, s’en va, puis il revient. (It comes, goes, then it returns)
Tu crois le tenir, il t’évite, (You think to hold it fast, it flees you)
Tu crois l’éviter, il te tient! (You think to flee it, it holds you)…

Excerpts from Habanera

 
 

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Carmen on The Big Screen

American silent drama film directed by Cecil B. DeMille (1915)

 
 

Theda Bara, epitome of the vamps, in a scene from Carmen (Raoul Walsh, 1915)

 
 

Gypsy Blood, 1918 German silent drama film directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Pola Negri, Harry Liedtke and Leopold von Ledebur

 
 

Carmen Jones (Otto Preminger, 1954)

 
 

Venezuelan late actress Mayra Alejandra as Carmen, la que contaba 16 años (Carmen, Who Was 16 Years Old), directed by Román Chalbaud (1978)

 
 

Carmen (Carlos Saura, 1983). It was directed and choreographed in the flamenco style by Carlos Saura and María Pagés. It is the second part of Saura’s flamenco trilogy in the 1980s, preceded by Bodas de sangre and followed by El amor brujo, both inspired by Federico García Lorca.

 
 

Directed by Francesco Rosi (1984). Julia Migenes stars in the title role, Plácido Domingo as Don José, Ruggero Raimondi as Escamillo, and Faith Esham as Micaela. Rosi acknowledged Gustave Doré‘s illustrations for Baron Charles Davilliers Spain (which was published in serial form in 1873) as his principal source for the visual design. He believed that Bizet, who never visited Spain, was guided by these engravings, and shot scenes in some of the exact places that Doré drew.

 
 

This 2003 film was made with high production values and was another success with audiences for the veteran Spanish director Vicente Aranda

 
 

Carmen: A Hip Hopera is a 2001 musical film produced for television by MTV and directed by Robert Townsend. The film stars Beyoncé Knowles in her debut acting role, Mos Def, Rah Digga, Wyclef Jean, Mekhi Phifer, Da Brat, Joy Bryant, Jermaine Dupri and Lil’ Bow Wow.

A New Type of Operatic Heroine

Illustration of Bizet’s opera Carmen, by Luc. It was published in Journal Amusant in 1875

 
 

Poster from 1975

 
 

Carmen is an opera comique in four acts by the French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and , based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. The opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, on 3 March 1875, and at first was not particularly successful.

 
 

Celestine Galli-Marie, the mezzosoprano who created the role of Carmen. Painting by Henri Lucien Doucet.

 
 

The depictions of proletarian life, immorality and lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage, broke new ground in French opera and were highly controversial. After the premiere, most reviews were critical, and the French public was generally indifferent. Carmen initially gained its reputation through a series of productions outside France, and was not revived in Paris until 1883; thereafter it rapidly acquired celebrity at home and abroad, and continues to be one of the most frequently performed operas; the Habanera from act 1 and the Toreador Song from act 2 are among the best known of all operatic arias. Later commentators have asserted that Carmen forms the bridge between the tradition of opéra comique and the realism or verismo that characterised late 19th-century Italian opera.

 
 

Poster for a circa 1896 American production of Georges Bizet’s Carmen, starring Rosabel Morrison, and under the management of Edward. J. Abraham

 
 

When artistic life in Paris resumed after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, Bizet found wider opportunities for the performance of his works; his one-act opera Djamileh opened at the Opéra-Comique in May 1872. Although this failed and was withdrawn after 11 performances, it led to a further commission from the theatre, this time for a full-length opera for which Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy would provide the libretto. Halévy, who had written the text for Bizet’s student opera Le docteur Miracle (1856), was a cousin of Bizet’s wife, Geneviève; he and Meilhac had a solid reputation as the librettists of many of Jacques Offenbach‘s operettas.

Bizet was delighted with the Opéra-Comique commission, and expressed to his friend Edmund Galabert his satisfaction in “the absolute certainty of having found my path”. The subject of the projected work was a matter of discussion between composer, librettists and the Opéra-Comique management; Adolphe de Leuven, on behalf of the theatre, made several suggestions that were politely rejected. It was Bizet who first proposed an adaptation of Prosper Mérimée’s novella Carmen. Mérimée’s story is a blend of travelogue and adventure yarn, probably inspired by the writer’s lengthy travels in Spain in 1830, and had originally been published in 1845 in the journal Revue des deux Mondes. It may have been influenced in part by Alexander Pushkin‘s 1824 poem The Gypsies, a work Mérimée had translated into French; it has also been suggested that the story was developed from an incident told to Mérimée by his friend the Countess Montijo. Bizet may first have encountered the story during his Rome sojourn of 1858–60, since his journals record Mérimée as one of the writers whose works he absorbed in those years.

Carmen herself, is a new type of operatic heroine representing a new kind of love, not the innocent kind associated with the “spotless soprano” school, but something altogether more vital and dangerous. Her capriciousness, fearlessness and love of freedom are all musically represented: “She is redeemed from any suspicion of vulgarity by her qualities of courage and fatalism so vividly realised in the music”. American music critic and journalist Harold C. Schonberg likens Carmen to “a female Don Giovanni. She would rather die than be false to herself”.

Carmen and The Hallucinogenic Toreador

Portrait of Carmen

 
 

Portrait of Escamillo

 
 

A Place in Seville

 
 

Rendez-Vous of the Smugglers

 
 

Love is like a Gypsy

 
 

Carmen Sings Gypsy Songs

 
 

The Habanera

 
 

Outside the Arena: The Fruit Vendor

 
 

The Harpist’s Allegory of Carmen’s Love

 
 

Lillias Pastis’s Tavern

 
 

Tribute to Escamillo

 
 

Awaiting the Fray

 
 

The Bird is Flown

 
 

The Bull is Dead

 
 

The Cards Spell Death to Carmen

 
 

Carmen and Don Jose Fleeing on Horseback

 
 

Whoever Carries off Carmen

 
 

Carmen’s Death

 
 

Don Jose’s Flower Song

 
 

Don Jose’s Last Appearance

 
 

The illustrated suite Carmen by Salvador Dalí, consists of 25 lithographs on various papers. They were produced in 1968.

 
 

El torero alucinógeno (Hallucinogenic Toreador), Salvador Dalí, 1968-1970. In this piece, Dalí transmits his wife’s dislike for bullfighting

 
 

The time is the late 1960s, and with Hallucinogenic Toreador, Salvador Dalí returns to all things Spanish and reveals his fascination with the colorful psychedelic explosion of those mind-bending times. As Sixties’ political rebellion gives way to Seventies’ decadence, we find the Spanish master undertaking his famous Carmen series of colored lithographs, published in 1970. The brigands, gypsies, and smugglers, who form the cast of this most beloved of operas, are the perfect counterpoint to Dalí’s increasingly distracting wealth and fame.

Dalí would depict the bullfight numerous times throughout his career and George Bizet‘s opera, set in Seville and featuring the toreador Escamillo in a primary role, provides Dalí with an ideal context in which to explore this most Spanish pastime. We illustrate here the complete suite of 25 hand-signed lithographs and believe you will agree that it is one of the most exquisite Dalínian triumphs of color and vivacity.

A Real Bright Road For a Beautiful Butterfly

Otto Preminger was familiar with Dorothy Dandridge but felt she was incapable of exuding the sultry sex appeal the role of Carmen demanded, particularly after having seen Dandridge’s performance as a demure schoolteacher opposite Harry Belafonte in Bright Road (Gerald Mayer, 1953). Her agent’s office was in the same building where Preminger’s brother Ingo worked, and he asked Ingo to intercede on his client’s behalf.

At his first meeting with <Dandridge, Preminger told her she was "lovely" and looked like a "model" or "a beautiful butterfly," but not Carmen, and suggested she audition for the role of Cindy Lou. Dandridge took the script and left, and when she returned she was dressed and behaved exactly as Preminger envisioned Carmen.The director was impressed enough to schedule a screen test for mid-May, after Dandridge completed a singing engagement in St. Louis. In the interim he cast Juilliard School graduate Olga James as Cindy Lou.

On May 21, Preminger announced Dandridge had been cast as Carmen. Initially thrilled by the prospect of playing one of the best film roles ever offered an African American female, Dandridge quickly began to doubt her ability to do it justice. After several days, she told her agent to advise Preminger she was backing out of the project. The director drove to her apartment to reassure her and assuage her fears, and the two unexpectedly began a passionate affair.

 
 

Dandridge was the first African American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her leading role in the 1954 movie Carmen Jones (Otto Preminger, 1954)

Channeling Carmen Jones

Theatrical poster for the film Carmen Jones(Otto Preminger, 1954). Design by Scott McKowen

 
 

Dorothy Dandridge strikes a pose in a scene from the film Carmen Jones. Costume design by Mary Ann Nyberg

 
 

Janet Jackson

 
 

-scura_1-700x501Halle Berry in the television film Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (Martha Coolidge, 1999)

 
 

Beyoncé Knowles

 
 

Rihanna

The First African American Sex Symbol

Twenty Foreplay is a song by American singer-songwriter Janet Jackson from her first greatest hits album, Design of a Decade 1986/1996. It was released as the album’s second and final single on January 8, 1996. The title is a play on the word “foreplay” and “24 hours a day”.

 
 

 
 

The 1950s look of the video, directed by Directed by Keir McFarlane, was inspired by Dorothy Dandridge, whom Jackson considers to be America’s first African American sex symbol. The video was shot in black-and-white and depicts Jackson in the glamorous Hollywood life such as movie premiere, press conference, and videotaping of her on the backlot of a movie set. The video has never been released commercially. McFarlane is best known for Sheryl Crow‘s If it Makes You Happy (2004) music video

 
 

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Ruth Ansel And a Man on a Women’s World

“I chose Bazaar because I liked it much better than Vogue– graphically, it was more sophisticated. I called cold and asked to talk to an editor. It turned out there was an opening in the art department, and Marvin Israel, the director, took a big chance on me. He wanted somebody that didn’t have to unlearn graphic design clichés. Bea Feitler, his protégé and star pupil from Parsons, had been hired a month earlier. My first few months were a disaster.”

“In 1962 Marvin was fired, and Bea and I became the art directors. We were pioneers in a way– not only were we young women but we were working as graphic design partners. Then in 1971, a new editor came in to make Bazaar more newsy and we were both fired– almost simultaneously.”

Ruth Ansel

 
 

When Ruth Ansel put Steve McQueen, photographed by Richard Avedon (also the guest editor), on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in 1965, it was the first time a male appeared on the cover of a women’s fashion magazine.

 
 

At first look there are obvious reasons to love this February, 1965 cover of Harper’s Bazaar magazine: Steve McQueen of course, and the amazing photography of the legendary Richard Avedon. But there is another visionary manifested here, not often spoken of, especially back when this was on the newsstand: Ruth Ansel, a female pioneer in the world of graphic design.

An interesting footnote: 22 year old Ali MacGraw (pre-McQueen days) worked under Diana Vreeland at Harper’s Bazaar until she was finally convinced by a bevy of photographers to get out from behind the camera and strike a pose. And the rest is history, as they say…

“Point to an iconic magazine cover of the last 40 years, and chances are it was designed by Ruth Ansel. Since 1961, when she talked her way into the art department at Harper’s Bazaar, Ansel has defined the look of some of America’s visually influential publications. In the 1960s, her work for Bazaar captured a transitional moment in fashion and society. In the 1970s, she became the first female art director of The New York Times Magazine and in the 1980s she created the look of Vanity Fair.”

Carol Kino

 
 

Model Jean Shrimpton & actor Steve McQueen

Love Yourself

“First love yourself, then you can love someone else
If you can change someone else, then you have saved someone else…”

Madonna
Hey You

 
 

Photos by Bruce Weber, LIFE magazine, December 1986

 
 

Photos by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Truth Or Dare Fragrance. Mirror Session, 2012

A Tribute to Dance in General

Photo by Steven Klein

 
 

Hung Up is a song by American singer-songwriter Madonna. It was written and produced in collaboration with Stuart Price, and released as the first single from her tenth studio album, Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005). Songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus generally do not allow anyone to sample any of their tracks, an exception being Fugees, who sampled their song The Name of the Game for their single Rumble in the Jungle.

Originally the video for Hung Up was scheduled to be directed by photographer David LaChapelle. He wanted the video to have a “documentary”-style look, much like that of his 2005 film, Rize, in which five of the dancers from the Hung Up video appeared. LaChapelle and Madonna disagreed on the concept, prompting the project to be reassigned to Johan Renck, who worked with Madonna in her video for Nothing Really Matters. According to an interview with MTV, Renck was directing Kate Moss for a H&M commercial when he received a phone call from Madonna who desperately wanted to work with him. The next day he went to Los Angeles to meet the stylist and the choreographer hired by Madonna, who mailed him with her ideas for the video.The director explained that he “kind of liked that we didn’t have time to over-think this and be too clever, I like being out on a limb and not know what we’re doing and why. Just deal with it, the mayhem, you know?”

Madonna clarified that the video was a tribute to Giorgio MorodeJohn Travolta and to dance in general. Her dance moves for the video, which were inspired by Travolta’s movies like Saturday Night Fever (John Badham, 1977), Grease (Randal Kleiser, 1978) and Perfect (James Bridges, 1985) took three hours to shoot. Madonna had broken eight bones in a horseback-riding accident a few weeks before shooting the video. Hence she faced difficulty doing the steps as devised by choreographer Jamie King. Renck said,

“She was such a trooper, [...] She just fell off a horse! [Madonna said] ‘If you were a real dance choreographer, you could tell I can’t lift my left arm higher than this’ — and it was like, what, a 20-centimeter difference? [...] But when she said it ‘hurts like f—,’ she’d take a break and sit down for two minutes. [Madonna]‘I have broken ribs, remember that!’ I just can’t imagine dancing like that. Talk about priorities.”

 
 

Gucci creative director Frida Giannini designed this particular bomber model exclusively for Madonna in conjunction with her 2006 Confessions tour and television appearances supporting Confessions on a Dance Floor

 

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The Last Massive Hit of the Disco Genre

Artwork by Scott Jones

 
 

Mouth to Mouth is the debut album by disco act Lipps Inc with Cynthia Johnson on lead vocals. Lipps Inc was formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was most known for the Double-Platinum-selling 1980 chart-topping hit Funkytown, which hit #1 in 28 different countries around the world. It consisted of a changing lineup of session musicians, including guitarist David Rivkin, guitarist Tom Riopelle and bassist Terry Grant. Steven Greenberg, the creator of the act, wrote and produced most of the group’s music.Lipps Inc.’s first release was a 1979 single, Rock It, on Greenberg’s own Flight imprint.

Funkytown, the second single from Mouth to Mouth, is often considered to be one of the last massive hits of the disco genre. This single held a unique record for reaching number one in 28 countries, more than any other single release until Madonna‘s Hung Up hit number one in 41 countries in 2005. Hung Up prominently features a sample of pop group ABBA‘s hit single Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight), for which Madonna personally sought permission from ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

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