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Marches Madness: 'Carmen' And The Castaways

Of all the memorable melodies in George Bizet's Carmen, the strutting "Toreador Song" stands out for popping up all over the place — from bass-baritone Samuel Ramey celebrating the Letter L on Sesame Street to the original The Bad News Bears.

In 2011, visitors to Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market got more than the cheesesteaks and sushi they bargained for when singers from the Opera Company of Philadelphia began performing the piece in between the tables.

But the oddest version might be the performance above from the mid-'60s sitcom Gilligan's Island. Like today's Community, the show was game for just about anything, including a musical version of Hamlet with melodies poached from Bizet and Offenbach. Here, Polonius (The Skipper) gives sage advice to his son Laertes (Mary Ann). Given the tune, the lesson won't easily be forgotten — just ask anyone who saw the episode decades ago.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Mobley