The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Mlle Cortez as 'Carmen'

Mlle Cortez as 'Carmen'

A cabinet card portrait of an opera singer identified as Mlle Cortez, seen here in the costume she wore in a production of Bizet's Carmen at the Opéra-Comique, according to a pencilled inscription verso in a period hand.

Based on the novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée, the opera was denounced by most critics when it premiered at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875. It was almost withdrawn after its fourth or fifth performance but although it ultimately had 48 performances in its first run, it did little to bolster the Opéra-Comique’s sagging receipts. Towards the end of its first run, the theatre was giving tickets away in order to stimulate attendance. Bizet died of a heart attack, aged 36, on 3 June 1875, never knowing how popular his opera would become. In October 1875 it was produced in Vienna, to critical and popular success, which began its path to worldwide popularity. It was not staged again at the Opéra-Comique until 1883.

This portrait probably dates from the Opéra-Comique's second production in 1883.

Photographed by Paul Nadar.

Code: 123021
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