Habañera

August 20, 2008 5:05 PM

from Bizet's opera Carmen. Recorded with pianist Andy Kraus in the heat and humidity of a DC summer.

Lyrics and translation over at the Wikipedia page. Brief summary: This is the first time Carmen appears onstage. The soldiers have been singing to her: "Carmen! Tell us, when will you love us?" She replies: "When I'll love you? I don't know: maybe never... maybe tomorrow... but not today, that's for sure." She tells them the absolute truth: "Love is a bastard. Love will fuck your life up every time. If you resist it only gets worse: I know, I've tried. I only love those who don't love me; and if I love you then watch out."

posted by Pallas Athena (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Oh my ... the last time I saw Carmen was in the early '90s. Now I'm kicking myself for having missed the Austin Lyric Opera production earlier this year.
posted by NemesisVex at 6:30 PM on August 20, 2008


Knowing next to nothing about opera, I don't feel especially qualified to comment on your performance, but, well, it sounds like you're doing it right!

What I would say is that I wish the recording was a little less "roomy". That is, you hear the room too much: your voice is too distant. I want more vocal presence. Maybe the mic was a bit too far away? And at the risk of suggesting something that might go against your principals, I'd say this recording could use a touch of reverb. It's a bit dry for my tastes, even if the air was full of humidity!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:24 PM on August 20, 2008


"L'amour est enfant de bohème, qui n'a jamais connu de loi, si tu ne m'aimes pas je t'aime et si je t'aime prends garde à toi"
I've just seen the movie by Carlos Saura, and it's true that's a powerful story. I don't know much about Opera either, but you've definitely induced a desire to go fetch a copy of carmen at the local library.
BTW, thanks for that performance. Excellent.
posted by nicolin at 3:43 AM on August 21, 2008


God, I hate misspelling "principles". Makes a fellow look really stupid.

But I have an excuse. I myself have no principles, so how would I know how to spell the word?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:50 AM on August 21, 2008


Thanks for the kind words, all! Flapjax, I see what you mean-- I'm a little scared to get too close to the mic in case it distorts when I go for a high note, but I suppose with careful level-setting it might work. I'm just such a n00b when it comes to recording know-how. Thanks for the sound advice, my dear.

And singers always like reverb-- maybe I should try recording in the shower...?
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:38 AM on August 21, 2008


My computer isn't letting me play this track, for some reason, so I haven't been able to hear it, but please forgive me a nitpicky correction just because it's one of my pet peeves. There's no tilde in habanera, since Havana, Cuba doesn't have one.
posted by umbú at 8:48 AM on August 22, 2008


This is fantastic.
And I completely disagree, I love hearing the room, especially in this case, because it sounds like it's alive and organic and happening in a room with a real piano player and a real singer, at the same time. Isolating shit would have killed the realness, for me.
I'm biased because I LOVE hearing spaces where people record stuff, it makes it so interesting to me.
Beautiful voice you have, for sure.

And a trick for remembering, for flapjax: a "principal" is your "pal."
posted by chococat at 11:49 PM on August 22, 2008


I also like your voice very much. It has great character.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:57 AM on August 23, 2008


I love this opera, and you sound great. Bravo.
posted by fixedgear at 3:25 AM on August 24, 2008


Thanks for posting this. It's good to have some stylistic contrast on MefiMu. It's such a classic chromatic melody--it must be really fun to sing. I envy your vocal control, and am always a sucker for the habanera rhythm.
posted by umbú at 10:17 AM on August 24, 2008


It's good to have some stylistic contrast on MefiMu.

exactly, and you are a great addition to the site, Pallas Athena. And thanks for the wikipedia link, I didn't know about "el Arreglito" and the "habanera" style, but it definitely explains a lot. The song definitely has a Cuban feel.
posted by micayetoca at 11:15 AM on August 24, 2008


And I completely disagree, I love hearing the room, especially in this case, because it sounds like it's alive and organic and happening in a room with a real piano player and a real singer, at the same time. Isolating shit would have killed the realness, for me.

I'm more with chococat on this one, I think, but to put it out there as a potential experiment: you might try a setup with two mics in the room, one fairly close (and, yeah, carefully level-checked against your peaks) to get a pretty tight, dry track, and one farther off to capture more of the room. From that you can try crossfading between the two to find whatever balance of dry vs. roomy you want.

Depending on where you are recording-wise, that might require a little more recording getup than you have available, though; if so, it might be worth it to recruit a recordist friend to bring over some gear and help you experiment.
posted by cortex at 9:59 AM on August 26, 2008


Yeah, let me clarify, now that chococat and cortex have both mentioned this: there's rooms and there's rooms. A good room sound is a good thing. When you hear the room that John Bonham was drumming in, that's a damn good thing. But the mics were positioned so that you heard the room AND felt Bonham's kick drum in your sternum, at the same time. So, yeah, what cortex is saying definitely applies. A good mix of room sound and tighter, up-close micing is the way to go. You want room, but you want presence and clarity, too, which I found lacking in this particular recording.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:48 AM on August 26, 2008


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