Many operas were written in the backdrop of exotic Seville, which is located far enough from the musical “center” of the 18th – 19th century Europe, but not too far away. Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, The Barber of Seville, Fidelio, and Carmen are among the most famous operas set in Seville. I walk down one of those quaint, narrow streets and explore hidden small plazas. Then suddenly I see signs in ceramic tiles indicating the fictional location from Prosper Mérimée’s Carmen, which was adapted as the libretto for the opera by Georges Bizet. It makes me hum the melodies of well known arias from Carmen, like this one, all day long:

As a very imaginative primate still on the planet, I then decide to look for Royal Tobacco Factory where Carmen sang the aria in Act I. It is located between Plaza de España and Real Alcazar, and now it is a part of University of Seville. At the main entrance, a guard requests a “permiso” to enter, which I don’t have. No way to enter the building as a traveler. But I can at least take a picture:

The city even has a plaza named after Doña Elvira, who is one of the main characters in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. It even has a statue of Don Juan in a small plaza at Santa Cruz neighborhood. Nowadays, a statue of such a fictional character makes more sense than that of mundane commonplace real ones, doens’t it?

Somehow I see more barbershops and barbers in Seville than in any other city I have been to. Or is it a figment of my imagination, too?

Mozart’s way of ending three hours of tumult in The Marriage of Figaro is truly ethereal. Listen to the heavenly aria and chorus at the very end of his opera. He actually makes the Count say “perdono” three times to the Countess.

Contessa, perdono!

Più docile io sono,
e dico di sì.

Ah, tutti contenti
saremo così.
Questo giorno di tormenti,
di capricci, e di follia,
in contenti e in allegria
solo amor può terminar.
Sposi, amici, al ballo, al gioco,
alle mine date foco!
Ed al suon di lieta marcia
corriam tutti a festeggiar!
 My Countess, forgive me.
 I am kinder:
 I will say "Yes."
 Then let us all
 Be happy.
 This day of torment,
 Of caprices and folly,
 Love can end
 Only in contentment and joy.
 Lovers and friends, let's round things off
 In dancing and pleasure,
 And to the sound of a gay march
 Let's hasten to the revelry.

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