Music by Georges Bizet
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy after Mérimée
First performed: 1875
Don José, a Basque, was studying for the priesthood when he killed a man over a game of cards, and fled south to join the army. His mother and Michaela, an orphan whom she wants her son to marry, have set up home near Seville, when José's regiment is stationed.
Micaela is looking for José, and the soldiers of another battalion recommended her to return when the guard changes. José tells his story to Lieutenant Zuniga, and they watch the girls break from work in the cigarette factory. Among them is Carmen, a gypsy who teases José. Micaela returns and José resolves to marry her, as his mother hopes; suddenly there is uproar, and José has to arrest Carmen for attacking another woman. Zuniga orders José to taker her to jail but Carmen seduces José and he lets her escape.
Lillas Pastia's bar
José has been demoted and sent to prison. Meanwhile Zuniga is enjoying himself with Carmen. She knows that today José will be released and she refuses Zuniga. She also rejects Escamillo the toreador when he shows an interest in her, and the smugglers Remendado and Dancairo when they try and recruit her for a job. When José finally appears Carmen dances for him, even to the sound of the roll-call; at the moment José decides to leave, Zuniga returns. José is furiously jealous, and ruins his army career by starting a fight with his superior officer. Carmen's friends welcome him to a life of crime.
A deserted chapel in the mountains
Carmen and José have quarreled: their relationship is over. While the women decoy some difficult customs guards, José is left in the gypsy camp. Micaela and Escamillo sonverge on the plan, seeking José and Carmen respectively. Micaela hides when José challenges Escamillo, whose life is saved when Carmen intervenes. Micaela is discovered, and begs José to return to his dying mother.
Outside the bull-ring in Seville
Carmen arrives with Escamillo for the bull-fight, and learns José is waiting for her. She taunts him and he kills her.
Back to full list
Already a member?
Sign in now to access the members only area
Not a member?
Join now to receive priority booking, invitations to dress rehearsals and members-only events and much more.