Music by Georges Bizet. Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
February 16, 18, 22, 24, 26, and 28, 2012
In French with English surtitles
Above: Find out what AC/DC and Hockey have to do with opera when Adam Sawatsky of CTV Vancouver Island interviews Allyson McHardy (Carmen) and and Eric Fennell (Don José).
This girl is trouble. Bad, beguiling, and dangerous to know, Carmen will never let herself be chained down by any one man. When she fixes on Don José as her next (but certainly not her last) lover, the naïve but volatile young soldier hasn't a chance. He follows her into a life of crime. Tragedy is inevitable, but what a ride along the way!
Carmen brims with fevered life: dashing toreadors, leering soldiers, free-spirited gypsies, and the dynamo that is Carmen herself.
In Carmen the romance of the French language is coupled with sizzling Spanish dance rhythms and the erotically charged music that makes this the sexiest opera of all time.
Carmen is a wonder out of place and time [but] one of the elements that makes this opera so enjoyable is the setting: the town squares, bars, bull rings and mountains of Spain ... the heat of the Seville sun ... sweating cigar girls, cleavage, and sexuality ... the heat gets to everyone.
Dennis Garnhum, Director
In a square in Seville, soldiers loiter about, people-watching and waiting for the girls in the cigarette factory to appear. Micaëla approaches, looking for Don José, who is about to come on duty. The factory girls come out for a smoke break; among them is the gypsy Carmen, who entertains with a sultry habanera. Don José pays no attention to her. Carmen tosses a flower at him, and the girls return to work.
Micaëla brings Don José a letter from his mother; Don José resolves to follow his mother's advice to marry Micaëla – but he is already bewitched by Carmen.
A commotion breaks out in the factory. Carmen is accused of wounding one of the other girls and is placed in Don José's custody. She flirts with him until he allows her to escape – for which crime he is sentenced to jail.
A month later, the gypsy girls and soldiers are at a tavern when the famous toreador Escamillo makes a grand entrance. He sings of the drama of the bullfight and of the love that awaits the toreador. When he suavely propositions Carmen, she tells him that for the moment she is not available.
Two gypsy smugglers, Le Dancaïre and Le Remendado, ask Carmen and her friends, Frasquita and Mercédès, to join them in the mountains to help with a job. But Carmen wants to be with Don José, who has been released from jail. When Carmen urges Don José to desert the army and come to the mountains with her, he is torn, but says no. When his Lieutenant, Zuniga, arrives looking for Carmen, Don José jealously attacks him. The smugglers break up the fight, but Don José now has no choice. He must leave town with the smugglers and Carmen.
Before long Carmen tires of Don José's possessiveness. When Escamillo shows up at the smugglers' camp, confident that Carmen is now ready to become his lover, Don José picks a fight with him. Carmen and the smugglers separate them. Before leaving for Seville, Escamillo invites them all to his next bullfight. Micaëla arrives to take Don José to his dying mother. As he departs, Don José promises Carmen they'll see one another again.
The day of Escamillo's great bullfight, the Seville crowd cheers as the toreador arrives with Carmen by his side. Don José accosts Carmen and begs her to leave with him. When she tells him that Escamillo is now the one she loves, Don José stabs her to death.
Carmen libretto (French)
This is the text to the "original'' version of the opera as intended for performance at the Opéra-Comique. It includes all of the spoken dialogue, spoken melodrama passages, and vocal parts subsequently altered or cut. It is presented in three acts as the authors originally intended, although the opera was performed in four acts from the beginning and all published scores and libretti (except the critical edition of Fritz Oeser) divide it into four acts.
Carmen Libretto (English)
Carmen Vocal Score
French and English piano-vocal score at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
Carmen by Prosper Mérimée
Original French text of the novella on which Bizet's opera is based.
Carmen by Prosper Mérimée
English translation of the novel on which Bizet's opera is based.
San Diego OperaTalk! with Nick Reveles
An engaging video introduction to Carmen with Dr. Nicolas Reveles, Director of Education and Outreach at San Diego Opera.
Contemporary Reviews of Carmen
A fascinating collection of critical reactions to the 1875 première of Carmen. These are in French, available for download as individual PDF files.