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Carmen FR - 1875 3*
Georges Bizet 1838 - 1875 FR 3*
Opéra comique : Comic opera with themes ranging from light to serious and tragic. Contains spoken dialogue, recitatives and arias.
Libretto by H. Meilhac and L. Halévy based on P. Mérimée
First performance at Paris, Opéra-Comique (Favart) on 3 March 1875
Synopsis - Roles - Arias
French libretto - German translation - Spanish translation - Russian translation
Article in Wikipedia
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Synopsis - Top
Act 1
A square in Seville.
Moralès and the soldiers loiter before the guard house commenting on passers-by. Micaëla appears seeking Don José, a corporal, but is told by Moralès that he is not yet on duty, so why does not she stay and wait with them? She runs away saying that she will return later. Zuniga and José arrive with the new guard, imitated by a crowd of street-children.
The factory bell rings and the cigarette girls emerge from the factory, greeted by young men who have gathered to flirt with them. The girls enter smoking cigarettes, and finally Carmen appears, and all the men ask her when she will love them (""). She replies in the famous Habanera "Love is a rebellious bird that no one can tame. He has never known law. If you don't love me I love you, if I love you watch yourself!". When they plead for her to choose a lover from among them, she tears a bunch of cassia from her bodice and throws it at Don José, who has been ignoring her, before going back into the factory with the others. José is annoyed by her insolence.
Micaëla returns and gives him a letter —and a kiss— from his mother. José longingly thinks of his home, and reading the letter sees that his mother wants him to return and get married. Micaëla is embarrassed and leaves, but Don José declares that he will marry her.
As soon as she leaves, screams are heard from the factory and the women run out, singing chaotically. Don José and Zuniga find that Carmen has been fighting with another woman, and slashed her face with a knife. Zuniga asks Carmen if she has anything to say, but she replies impudently with a song. Zuniga instructs José to guard her while he writes out the warrant for prison. The women go back into the factory and the soldiers to the guardhouse. To escape, Carmen seduces José with a Seguidilla about an evening she will spend with her next lover who is "only a corporal"; José gives in and unties her hands. Zuniga returns, and Carmen allows herself to be led away but turns, pushes José to the ground, and as laughing cigarette girls surround Zuniga, she escapes.

Act 2
Evening at Lillas Pastia's inn
It is two months later. Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès sing and dance. Lillas Pastia is trying to get rid of the officers, so Zuniga invites Carmen and her friends to come with him to the theatre, but she can only think of José, who was demoted and has been in jail since letting her escape, and was released the day before.
The sound of a procession hailing Escamillo passes by outside, and the toreador is invited in. Escamillo sings the Toreador song, and flirts with Carmen, but Carmen tells him that for the time being he need not dream of being hers.
When everyone except Carmen, Frasquita and Mercédès have left, the smugglers Dancaïre and Remendado arrive and tell the girls of their plans to dispose of the contraband they have smuggled via Gibraltar. Carmen refuses to accompany them, saying to their amazement that she is in love.
As José's voice is heard, Dancaïre tells Carmen she must try to get Don José to join them. Alone together, José returns a gold coin Carmen had sent him in jail and she orders fruit and wine to be brought.
Carmen vexes him with stories of her dancing for the officers but then dances with castanets for him alone. During her song the sound of bugles is heard calling the soldiers back to barracks.
Carmen's temper flares when José says he must leave, but he makes her listen by producing the flower she threw at him, which he kept while he was in prison and is proof of his love. Carmen is unmoved and asks him to join her gipsy life if he really loves her.
Her picture of a life of freedom tempts him but he finally refuses saying he will never be a deserter. He begins to leave when Zuniga enters hoping to find Carmen. Don José draws his sword on his superior officer, but before they can fight the smugglers burst in and disarm both of them. Zuniga is made a prisoner and José has no alternative but to flee with Carmen.

Act 3
A wild and deserted rocky place at night
The smugglers along with Carmen and José are travelling with the contraband, but Carmen has grown tired of José, and does not conceal this, taunting him to return to his village.
Carmen, Frasquita and Mercédès read the cards: Frasquita and Mercédès foresee love and romance, wealth and luxury; but Carmen's cards foretell death for both her and José. The smugglers ask the girls to come and charm the customs officers and everyone goes off, leaving the jealous José to guard the goods.
Micaëla arrives with a guide seeking José. She sends the guide away and vows to take Don José away from Carmen. She sees José firing a gun, and hides in the rocks. It was Escamillo whom José had fired at, but when he arrives José welcomes him, until he says he is infatuated with Carmen and tells José the story of her affair with a soldier, not realising José is that soldier.
José challenges Escamillo to a knife-fight, but Escamillo fights defensively, infuriating José. They start again and José finds himself at the mercy of Escamillo who releases him, saying his trade is killing bulls, not men. The third time they fight Escamillo's knife breaks, but he is saved by the return of the smugglers and Carmen. Escamillo leaves, but invites Carmen and the smugglers to his next bullfight in Seville.
Remendado finds Micaëla hiding, and she tells José that his mother wishes to see him. Carmen mocks him and at first he refuses to go, until Micaëla tells him that his mother is dying. Vowing that he will return to Carmen, he goes.
As he is leaving, Escamillo is heard singing in the distance. Carmen rushes to the sound of his voice, but José bars her way.

Act 4
A square in front of the arena at Seville
It is the day of the contest to which Escamillo invited the smugglers. The square is full of people, with merchants and gypsies selling their wares. Zuniga, Frasquita and Mercédès are among the crowd and the girls tell Zuniga that Carmen is now with Escamillo.
The crowd and children sing and cheer on the procession as the cuadrilla arrive. Carmen and Escamillo are greeted by the crowds and express their love, Carmen adding that she had never loved one so much.
After Escamillo has gone into the fight, Frasquita warns Carmen that José is in the crowd, but Carmen scorns their fears. Before she can enter the arena she is confronted by the desperate José.
He begs her to return his love and start a new life with him far away. She calmly replies that she loves him no longer and will not give way — free she was born and free she will die.
Cheers are heard from the bull-ring and Carmen tries to enter, but José bars her way. He asks her one last time to come back, but she scornfully throws back the ring that he gave to her.
He stabs her as Escamillo is acclaimed in the arena, to the strains of the chorus of the ‘Toreador Song’, she dies. Don José kneels in despair beside her. The spectators flock out of the arena and find José, confessing his guilt over her dead body.
Roles - Top
CarmenMezzosopranoF-M A Gypsy Girl
Don JoséTenorM-M Corporal of Dragoons
EscamilloBaritoneM-L Toreador
MicaelaSopranoF-H A Village Maiden
ZunigaBassM-VL Lieutenant of Dragoons
MoralesBaritoneM-L Corporal of Dragoons
FrasquitaSopranoF-H Companion of Carmen soprano
MercedesMezzosopranoF-M Companion of Carmen soprano
Lillas Pastia Innkeeper
Le DancaireBaritoneM-L Smuggler
Le RemendadoTenorM-M Smuggler
Arias - Top
Prelude 2*
Act 1: Sur la place, chacun passe
Avec la garde montante
La cloche a sonné
Quand je vous aimerai?
L'amour est un oiseau rebelle (Habanera) 3*
Carmen! sur tes pas, nous nous pressons tous!
Parle-moi de ma mère!
Que se passe-t-il donc là-bas?
Coupe-moi, brûle-moi
Voici l'ordre, partez
Près des remparts de Seville 2*
Act 2: Les tringles des sistres (Gypsy Song)
Vivat, vivat le Toréro!
Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre (Toreador Song) 2*
Nous avons en tête une affaire
Halte-là, qui va là? (Canzonetta)
Je vais danser en votre bonneur
La fleur que tu m'avais jetée (Flower Song) 1*
Non, tu ne m'aime pas
Bel officier
Suis-nous à travers la campagne
Act 3: Écoute, écoute, compagnons
Mélons, coupons
En vain pour éviter les réponses amères
Quant au douanier, c'est notre affaire
Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante
Holà, holà José!
Non, je ne partirai pas!
Act 4: A deux cuartos
Les voici! voici la quadrille
Si tu m'aimes, Carmen
Carmen! Prends garde!
C'est toi? C'est moi!
Cette bague, autrefois
Eh bien, damnée
Ah! Carmen! ma Carmen adorée!