BIZET: Carmen

First Performance: 3 March 1875, OpÈra-Comique (Salle
Favart), Paris.

Principal Characters:
Carmen, a gypsy Mezzo-Soprano
Don JosÈ, a corporal Tenor
Escamillo, a bullfighter Bass
MicaÎla, a country girl Soprano
Zuniga, a lieutenant Bass
MoralËs, a corporal Baritone
Frasquita, a gypsy Soprano
MercÈdËs, a gypsy Soprano
Lillas Pastia, an innkeeper Nonsinging Role
AndrËs, a lieutenant Tenor
Le DancaÔre, a smuggler Tenor/Baritone
Le Remendado, a smuggler Tenor
A Gypsy Bass
A Guide Nonsinging Role
An Orange-Seller Contralto
A Soldier Nonsinging Role
The Alcalde Nonsinging Role

Setting: Sevilla, c. 1830.


Act I

Soldiers and townspeople mill around in a square in Seville. A young
peasant girl, Micaela, asks the soldiers if they have seen her sweetheart,
Don JosÈ. Telling her he’ll be back soon, they try to persuade her to stay
with them, but she declines. The relief soldiers, including Don JosÈ, arrive.
Factory bells ring, and a group of cigarette girls emerges from the factory
where they work, including the popular gypsy beauty, Carmen. She focuses her
attention on Don JosÈ, who pretends not to notice. Before leaving, she
seductively tosses a flower at him. Alone, Don JosÈ recovers the flower and
reflects on Carmen’s charms. Micaela finds him and delivers both a letter and
a chaste kiss from his mother, who asks her son to marry Micaela. Don JosÈ
promises his love and fidelity to Micaela, despite the temptations of Carmen.
A ruckus erupts from the cigarette factory. Carmen has injured another woman,
and the officer Zuniga commands Don JosÈ to jail Carmen. But Don JosÈ
succumbs to her charms. He agrees to a rendezvous and lets Carmen escape.

Act II

At Lillas Pastia’s inn, Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercedes
consort with Zuniga and other soldiers. A group of revelers arrives,
celebrating Escamillo, the illustrious bullfighter. The crowd cheers as
Escamillo boasts of his victories. He notices Carmen, but she remains
indifferent. Zuniga, also smitten, tells Carmen that he plans to return to
the inn later to visit her. When the crowd disperses, the smugglers Remendado
and Dancairo try to enlist the aid of Carmen, Frasquita, and Mercedes.
Mercedes and Frasquita agree to help them smuggle contraband, but Carmen,
expecting Don JosÈ, wants to stay at the inn. Don JosÈ arrives, and Carmen
dances for him. But distant bugles signal him to return to his quarters and
he prepares to leave. Carmen mocks his obedience and encourages him to run
away with her and lead the free gypsy life. Don JosÈ remains unconvinced
until Zuniga returns to the inn seeking Carmen. In a jealous rage, Don JosÈ
defies his officer’s orders to leave. As the smugglers pounce on Zuniga and
escort him out of the inn, Don JosÈ has no choice but to remain with the


At the mountain hideout of the smugglers, Don JosÈ longs for his mother,
who still believes him an honest man. Carmen taunts him and urges him to
leave, but he refuses. Frasquita and Mercedes tell their fortunes with a deck
of cards. When Carmen takes her turn, the cards foretell death for her and
Don JosÈ. The gypsies set off to smuggle contraband, leaving Don JosÈ behind
to guard the camp. Micaela arrives at the mountain hideout searching for Don
JosÈ and hides among the rocks. Escamillo approaches the camp looking for
Carmen. He and Don JosÈ exchange words and begin to fight. But the smugglers
return in time to stop Don JosÈ from wounding Escamillo, who invites them all
to the bullfight in Seville. Her hiding place discovered, Micaela begs Don
JosÈ to return home to his mother, who is dying. Despite his violent
jealousy, Don JosÈ leaves with Micaela.

Act IV

At the bullfight, a crowd gathers to watch the procession of toreadors.
Escamillo and Carmen arrive together. Mercedes and Frasquita warn Carmen that
Don JosÈ is lurking about. Carmen, unafraid, waits alone for Don JosÈ. He
approaches and begs her to leave with him. She insists that their affair is
over, that she does not love him anymore, and that she now loves Escamillo.
As Don JosÈ’s demands become more desperate, Carmen throws at him the ring he
once gave her. Don JosÈ murders Carmen, while the crowd inside the bullring
cheers Escamillo.

Source: New York City Opera Project]

here for the complete libretto.

here for the complete score.

here for the full text of the novella.

image_description=Georges Bizet: Carmen
first_audio_name=Georges Bizet: Carmen
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second_audio_name=Georges Bizet: Carmen
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product_title=Georges Bizet: Carmen
product_by=Gabriella Besanzoni (Carmen), Piero Pauli (Don JosÈ), Ernesto Besanzoni (Escamillo), Maria Carbone (MicaÎla), Nerina Ferrari (Frasquita), Tamara Beltacchi (MercÈdËs), Emilio Venturini (El Remendado), Attilio Bordonali (MoralËs), Nello Palai (El Dancairo), Enrico Spada (Zuniga), Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Carlo Sagajno (cond.)
Recorded 1931