Best of: Carmen / Open Air on the parking deck

Georges Bizet [1838 – 1875]

Information on the piece

Opéra comique in four acts by Georges Bizet
Libretto by Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy,
based on a novella by Prosper Mérimée
First performed on 3rd March 1875, in Paris

Recommended from 13 years on

approx. 100 minutes / no interval

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About the performance

It is hardly surprising that audiences at the first performances of CARMEN were left somewhat perplexed by Georges Bizet’s new opera. Instead of the exotic backdrops and romantic love stories that the composer had served up in his “Les pêcheurs de perles” they were ambushed by a shocking tale that featured only shady, unpleasant characters: soldiers and smugglers, factory girls and prostitutes, and an eponymous heroine who was radical in her rejection of all social norms and her insistence, even to the point of violence, on her right to sexual self-determination. Even more disturbing for audiences, however, might well have been the fact that a man of bourgeois stock becomes embroiled in a proletarian world of all things, a milieu in which the law of the jungle prevails. Because, despite Bizet’s opera being named after the main female character, the work actually centres on the moral and psychological decline of Don José. His love for Carmen spirals into a lethal state of jealousy.

This 100-minute-long abridged version of the opera heightens the focus on the transformation undergone by Don José, which is continually reflected in his head-to-heads with Carmen. The opera starts with a conscientious soldier being led astray and progresses to his declaration of love and the famous “Flower Aria” in Act 2 before ending in arguments, disappointment, rejection and a despair bordering on madness.


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