Bizet died suddenly after the 33rd performance, unaware that the work would achieve international acclaim within the following ten years. Carmen has since become one of the most popular and frequently performed operas in the classical canon; the "Habanera" from act 1 and the "Toreador Song" from act 2 are among the best known of all operatic arias.
Set in southern Spain and tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery gypsy Carmen. José abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts from his military duties, yet loses Carmen's love to the glamorous toreador Escamillo, after which José kills her in a jealous rage. 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.
Clips from brief biography by Rovi Staff at All Music website
Bizet was born in Paris on October 25, 1838, and grew up in a happy, musical family that encouraged his talents. He learned to read music at the same time he learned to read letters, and equally well. Entering the Paris Conservatory before he was ten, he earned first prize in solfège within six months, a first prize in piano in 1852, and eventually, the coveted Prix de Rome in 1857 for his cantata Clovis et Clotilde. .....The two years spent in Rome after winning his prize, would be the only extensive time, and a greatly impressionable one, that Bizet would spend outside of Paris in his brief life. When he returned to Paris, he lost confidence in his natural talents and began to substitute dry Germanic or academic writing for his own developing idiom. ......
In 1863 Bizet's father bought land outside Paris where he built two bungalows, one of which Bizet frequently used as a compositional retreat. He began a friendship (apparently not a physical one) with a neighbor-woman named Céleste Mogador, a former actress, author, courtesan, circus rider, and dance-hall girl. She is said to have been the model for his masterpiece's title role of Carmen. ......
Bizet's corpus of unfinished works is large, and testifies to his unsettled existence and his difficulty in finding a place in France's notoriously hierarchical and conservative musical world. In 1869 Bizet married Geneviève Halévy, daughter of his teacher. The marriage did not turn out to be a happy one, primarily due to her family's history of mental illness. .......
At last confident of his creative vision, Bizet was able to steer his final masterpiece [Carmen] through various obstacles, including the objections of singers and theater directors who were shocked by Carmen's subject matter. When the opera had its premiere on March 3, 1875, it was received barely well enough to hang on for future productions. Although it took audiences only a few weeks to catch on, Bizet died [on June 3, 1875 in Bougival, France] convinced it was a failure.
Astrodatabank has a birth time of 10p.m. for Bizet, but ranked as "DD" (dirty data). I'm ignoring that - if it's dirty, why muddy the waters with inaccurate assumption? Using 12 noon chart will give sufficient broad information for this blog post.
Natal Sun in early Scorpio (erotic) in trine aspect to Uranus (ahead of its time) in Pisces reflects Bizet's daringly erotic (for its day) subject matter of Carmen - the work that eventually brought him the success he craved, albeit posthumously. Neptune (imagination, creativity) in Aquarius trine Jupiter in Libra (the arts) is echo of the same. His Venus in Libra, one of three natal planets in the sign ruled by Venus, speaks to his innate musical sense, becoming obvious from a very early age.
Saturn in Scorpio square Mars in Leo; and Pluto from Aries opposing Venus and Mercury are reflections of the difficulties and challenges Bizet experienced in his professional and personal life.
Without a reliable time of birth Moon's position isn't known, but almost certainly it would have been somewhere in Capricorn, providing the only Earthy, practical grounding in his chart, to balance an Air/Water (mentally/emotionally oriented) nature, unless such was also coming from his unknown ascendant.
Finishing off the post, a very brief clip from a recent British production of Bizet's other well-known opera,
The Pearl Fishers