Jussi Bjorling, the flower song


Jussi Björling never took part in a complete performance of Bizet’s Carmen, either on stage or in the recording studio. Although in 1951 he was contracted to record the role of Don José for RCA under Fritz Reiner’s leadership, he realized he had insufficient time to learn the music and was replaced by Jan Peerce. All we have of his Don José is the flower song—“La fleur que tu m’avais jetée”—which he performed frequently on the concert platform. Two studio recordings and twelve off-the-air recordings (including two videos) survive of him singing this aria. Björling performed a number of other opera arias that weren’t part of his stage repertoire in concert and recital, but none of them were recorded as often as the flower song.

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