A gypsy is determined to live life on her own terms - whatever her fate may be. From its scandalous 1875 premiere in Paris to its current position as one of the most popular operas in the world, Carmen
has enthralled generation after generation.
Bizet's masterpiece blends passion, seduction, jealousy, dance, and even a little law-breaking, all set to one of the most famous scores ever composed.
Come experience this most vivid of operas, performed by a dynamic young cast.
Cecilia Violetta López
Learn more about our cast!
* Madison Opera debut
Conductor: John DeMain
Director: E. Loren Meeker*
Sung in French with projected English translations
Friday, November 3, 2017 | 8pm
Sunday, November 5, 2017 | 2:30pm
Performances last approx. 3 hours; including 1 intermission
Opera Novice: It's A Flop! Operas That Got Bad Reviews | October 6, 2017
Opera Up Close: Carmen preview | October 29, 2017
Opera Talks: Pre-Opera Talk and Post-Opera Q&A session
The Story of the Opera
In Seville by a cigarette factory, soldiers comment on the townspeople. Among them is Micaela, a peasant girl, who asks for a corporal named Don José. Morales, another corporal, tells her he will return with the changing of the guard. The relief guard, headed by Lieutenant Zuniga, soon arrives, and José learns from Morales that Micaela has been looking for him. When the factory bell rings, the men of Seville gather to watch the female workers - especially their favorite, Carmen. She tells her admirers that love obeys no rules. Only one man pays no attention to her: Don José. Carmen throws a flower at him, and the girls go back to work. José picks up the flower and hides it when Micaela returns. She brings a letter from José’s mother, who lives in a distant village, along with a kiss. As he begins to read the letter, Micaela leaves.
A fight erupts inside the factory between Carmen and another woman. Zuniga sends José to investigate. Carmen refuses to answer Zuniga’s questions, and José is ordered to take her to prison. Left alone with him, Carmen entices José with suggestions of a rendezvous at a tavern. Mesmerized, he agrees to let her get away. As they leave for prison, Carmen escapes. Don José is arrested.
Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercedes entertain the guests at the tavern. Zuniga tells Carmen that José has just been released. The bullfighter Escamillo enters, boasting about the pleasures of his profession, and flirts with Carmen, who tells him that she is involved with someone else.
After the tavern guests have left with Escamillo, the smugglers Dancaire and Remendado explain their latest scheme to the women. Frasquita and Mercedes are willing to help, but Carmen refuses because she is in love. The smugglers withdraw when José arrives. Carmen arouses his jealousy by telling him how she danced for Zuniga. She dances for him now, but when a bugle call is heard he says he must return to the barracks. Carmen mocks him. To prove his love, José shows her the flower she threw at him and confesses how its scent made him not lose hope during the weeks in prison. She responds that if he really loved her, he would desert the army and join her in a life of freedom in the mountains. José refuses, and Carmen tells him to leave. Zuniga bursts in, and in a jealous rage José fights him. The smugglers return and disarm Zuniga. José now has no choice but to join them.
Carmen and José quarrel in the smugglers’ mountain hideaway. She admits that her love is fading and advises him to return to his mother. When Frasquita and Mercedes turn the cards to tell their fortunes, they foresee love and riches for themselves, but Carmen’s cards spell death—for her and for José. Micaela appears, frightened by the mountains and afraid to meet the woman who has turned José into a criminal. She hides when a shot rings out. José has fired at an intruder, who turns out to be Escamillo. He tells José that he has come to find Carmen, and the two men fight. The smugglers separate them, and Escamillo invites everyone, Carmen in particular, to his next bullfight. When he has left, Micaela emerges and begs José to return home. He agrees when he learns that his mother is dying, but before he leaves he warns Carmen that they will meet again.
Back in Seville, the crowd cheers the bullfighters on their way to the arena. Carmen arrives on Escamillo’s arm, and Frasquita and Mercedes warn her that José is nearby. Unafraid, she waits outside the entrance as the crowds enter the arena. José appears and begs Carmen to forget the past and start a new life with him. She calmly tells him that their affair is over: she was born free and will die free. As the crowd is heard cheering Escamillo, José keeps trying to win Carmen back. She takes off his ring and throws it at his feet before heading for the arena. José stabs her to death.
~Courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera