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Carmen is an opera in four acts by the French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy and is based on the novella of the same name, written by Prosper Merimee. The novella is also thought to be inspired by a previous work, the narrative poem The Gypsies by Alexander Pushkin. Though classified as an "opera comique," Carmen transformed the genre. Subsequent operas began following suit in blurring the lines between serious and comic opera, incorporating the serious and the heroic with the light and realistic and shifting toward a trend of realism that became known as "verismo."
Carmen premiered in Paris on March 3, 1875 to poor reviews. Critics did not accept Bizet's innovation with open arms; instead, they thought Carmen to be inappropriate for the Opera Comique, where it opened, criticized him for not adapting to the popular style of Wagner, and disparaged his choice to emphasize the orchestra over the singers. But although Bizet could not see it (he died in April of that year), his final opera would find rapturous audiences in other cities, first and foremost Vienna, where people did not have the same prejudices and expectations as in Paris. Carmen went on to premiere with great success all over the world and continues to this day to be one of the most popular operas. In fact, it is the third most performed opera in the world. Get your Carmen tickets today to see this genre-bending masterpiece come to life!Plot Synopsis:
Act I: Between a cigarette factory and a guard house in Seville, several soldiers are relaxing, watching the people passing by. A young woman named Micaela arrives and asks to see Don Jose, a Dragoon corporal, and Morales, another corporal, suggests she wait with them until he returns. She hurries away, saying that she will come back for him. Soon, Jose arrives with Lieutenant Zuniga as a group of children mimic their military style. The break bell rings and the ladies who work in the cigarette factory emerge to a crowd of admiring men. Carmen, the most sought-after woman, arrives last to the sweet words of all but Jose. Intrigued, she throws a flower at him and re-enters the factory with the others; Jose finds her gesture disrespectful. Micaela returns with a letter and a kiss from Don Jose's mother, who wishes for him to return home and get married. Longing for home, he pledges to marry Micaela. When Micaela exits, the factory women rush out in fright; Carmen has gotten into a fight with another worker and slashed her face. While being detained, she seduces Jose until he unties her hands, and she makes a swift escape.
Act II: A month later, at the local inn, soldiers and Gypsies are at leisure when Zuniga invites Carmen and the others to leave with him, but she is preoccupied with thoughts of Jose, who was just released from jail after serving nearly a month for letting her escape. Outside, a procession for the famous bullfighter Escamillo passes by, and he is enchanted by Carmen, but she rejects him. Later, Carmen and her friends, Frasquita and Mercedes, are approached by the smugglers Dancaire and Remendado, who tell them of their plans to unload some product they had recently acquired. To their surprise, Carmen refuses to join them because she is in love. When Jose approaches, the others depart. Once the pair is alone together, Carmen tries to seduce him with wine, fruit, and a private dance with castanets. When Jose hears the trumpet call, Carmen is upset, but he shows her that he saved the flower she threw at him when they first met. She asks him to join her nomadic life if he really loves her, but he refuses in loyalty to his country. Suddenly, Zuniga enters and tries to apprehend Carmen. The two begin to duel, but the smugglers interrupt and take Zuniga as a prisoner. Jose is left with no other choice than to join Carmen in escaping.
Act III: In the smugglers' mountain hideout, Carmen and Jose bicker. She confesses that her love for him is fading and suggests that he return home to his mother. When Frasquita and Mercedes read the cards and reveal fortune for themselves, Carmen's predict death for her and her lover. After the smugglers and Gypsies leave Jose to guard the treasure, Micaela, visibly afraid to be in the presence of criminals, enters to rescue Jose when she hears a gunshot; Jose has fired at an unknown intruder who turns out to be Escamillo. The two begin to fight for the hand of Carmen until the smugglers return. Escamillo leaves after inviting Carmen to his next bullfight in Seville. Micaela finally reveals that Jose's mother is dying, so he returns home with her, vowing to return to Carmen.
Act IV: Just outside the arena in Seville on the day of Escamillo's fight, the square is full of merchants and Gypsies selling their products. Zuniga finds Mercedes and Frasquita, who tell him that Carmen is now seeing Escamillo. The pair arrives, expressing their deep love, to much applause. After Escamillo enters the arena, Frasquita warns Carmen that Jose is among the crowd, but she shrugs it off. Suddenly, Jose confronts her, begging her to come back to him, but she matter-of-factly tells him that their relationship is over. When he bars her from entering the arena, she throws in his face the ring he gave her; enraged, he fatally stabs her. When the crown gathers in horror, he confesses and surrenders himself to the crowd.Run Time: Approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes Advisory: Due to length, format, and some adult themes, it is recommended for teens and older. Creative Team: Written by Georges Bizet French Libretto by Henri Meilhac, Ludovic Halevy Based on Carmen by Prosper Merimee