The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Katherine Jenkins and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Perform Bizet's "Habanera"

“Habanera” is a popular aria from Georges Bizet’s 1875 opera, Carmen. The aria is also referred to as "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle," which means "Love is a rebellious bird." The name “Habanera” came from a type of Cuban dance that was brought to Spain by sailors and gained popularity in the 19th century.

Born in Paris, France, on October 8, 1838, Bizet was a child prodigy and won numerous awards, including the distinguished Prix de Rome in 1857 in the musical composition category. The Prix de Rome was a French scholarship for students of the arts that allowed them to study for three to five years in Rome, Germany, and Paris, with the state paying their expenses. Bizet stayed in Rome for the first three years of the financial grant and spent the final two in Paris. Although he was a skilled concert pianist, he chose to devote his time to musical composition.

His most popular work, Carmen, was pronounced a failure at its premiere in March 1875, which left the composer Bizet saying, “I foresee a definite and hopeless flop." Depressed over the failure of Carmen, and battling recurring illness, Bizet died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 37 on June 3, 1875. During a performance of Carmen on the night of his funeral, the press, who had panned his opera a few months earlier, now declared Bizet a master.

Through the years, Carmen and the aria "Habanera" have gained popularity, and the song has been featured in many movies including Bad News BearsSuperman Returns, Meet the Parents, and Up.

In 2012, world-renowned soprano Katherine Jenkins was the Choir’s guest artist for thePioneer Day concert, where she performed “Habanera” with the Choir. During the program, the Welsh-born singer made a special connection with the Choir, saying, “I'm not sure what's in the water we drink in Wales, but it seems that everybody grows up singing. And if you can't carry a tune, well, you just sing anyway." She then asked how many members had Welsh ancestry, and most of the Choir raised their hands. "Hello, cousins!" Jenkins laughed.

Here is the Choir and Jenkins performing “Habanera” by Georges Bizet.