Music needs to be “Mediterraneanized”. That is what Nietzsche wrote – in French! – after hearing Carmen for the twentieth time. He was grateful that Bizet, ten years after “Tristan”, had composed its antithesis—even its antidote. Far from the heady aura of the Wagnerian ideal, Bizet had brought to the stage of the Opéra-Comique a deadly passion, violently revealed and crushed by the Spanish sun. The philosopher saw its as a revelation and deliverance. “The work has retained Mérimée's logically moving passion, concise lines, and implacable precision. Above all, it possesses what is distinctive to hot countries, namely, the dryness of the air. A different sensuality, a different sensibility, a different, and more confident gaiety speaks there. The music is gay, but this is no French or German gaiety. It’s gaiety is African. Blind fate weighs down on her, her happiness is brief, sudden, merciless. Then, finally, love; love re-transposed into its original nature! Love conceived as a fatum, a fatality, cynical love, innocent, cruel! Love, harbinger of war; the mortal hatred of the sexes its very principle.” Philippe Jordan conducts Bizet’s masterpiece for its long-awaited return to the Paris Opera.