Georges Bizet

  • World premiere
  • Opéra Comique din Paris, 3 martie 1875
  • Romanian Opera Craiova Premiere
  • 19 octombrie 2002
  • Time Length
  • aprox. 3h – două pauze
  • Extra info
  • Spectacol în limba franceză cu supratitrare în limba română

Opera in four acts composed by Georges Bizet.

Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, after Prosper Mérimée’s homonymous novella.

The action takes place in Seville, at the beginning of the 19th century.


In a square of Seville, not far away from a tobacco factory, a group of soldiers watch the crowd in full boredom. The young peasant Micaëla appears; she is looking for Don José, but he will only arrive at the following guard change. Micaëla goes away, but will come back later. Some trumpet signals announce the guard change that attracts the people’s attention. The square is soon filled by the workers in the tobacco factory, including Carmen, a beautiful gypsy, always surrounded by admirers (aria – Habanera). The only one who pays no attention is the soldier on duty Don José, who is not impressed by the song and by the temperamental dancing of the girl. However, before going back to the factory, Carmen throws a flower at Don José; he is impressed with her boldness and beauty, he wonders how he has not seen her before and he cannot help but take it. Micaëla comes back, finding Don José alone and thoughtful. She brings news from his mother, who lives alone, in a nearby village. The memories of his homeland bring nostalgia and love to Don José’s heart (duet). After the girl leaves, Don José is decided to fulfil his mother’s wish and marry Micaëla.

Shouting is heard from the factory yard. The scandal was caused by Carmen, who has attacked another woman with a knife. Captain Zuniga orders Don José to arrest the culprit. With her hands tied, Carmen talks, sings and dances (aria – Seguidilla), using all her charm to conquer the young soldier who, eventually, leaves her get away. They had planned to meet later, at Lillas Pastia’s tavern, but Don José will be arrested for not having met his duties.


The party is on at Lillas Pastia’s tavern (Gypsy song). The bullfighter Escamillo arrives, who is praised and celebrated for his latest victory and who speaks of his life full of danger, as well as of the joy of the one who triumphs in the ovations of the crowd (aria). Escamillo is charmed by the beautiful Carmen, but his love declarations are coldly rejected. For now, Carmen is faithful to Don José and waits for him. This is why she also refuses to accompany her smuggler friends who are getting ready to go to the mountains again (quintet). The fervent call of Don José is heard from far away. Exuberant, Carmen only sings and dances for him. However, the bugle call from the barracks interrupts her. Angry, Carmen drives the young soldier away, mocking his sense of duty. Don José shows her the flower she had thrown at him on their first meeting, now withered, but which had accompanied him between the cold walls of the prison, and declares his passionate and true love (aria). Carmen takes advantage of this moment of weakness and suggests him to leave the army and become a smuggler with her. Outraged at this proposal, Don José decides to leave her, but, when coming out of the tavern, he meets Zuniga, who had come back because he was also in love with Carmencita. Blinded by jealousy, Don José threatens his superior. The smugglers who were called in a hurry manage to separate them. Don José now has no choice: only running away with Carmen and her friends, as, together with them and outside the law, will he manage to keep his freedom (scene and choir).


Protected by the night, FrasquitaMercedes, Don José, DancairoRemendado and the other smugglers carefully travel in the mountains. Feeling that Carmen’s feelings for him have withered, Don José, turned into a deserter and smuggler as well, suffers terribly. Indeed, Carmen, for whom love and faith did not mean much, is interested in the brave Escamillo. Wishing to be free again, she suggests that Don José should give up their lifestyle and leave. In a violent fit of rage and jealousy, the man threatens to kill her.

Carmen and her friends read their fortunes from the cards. For Carmen, they foresee death (the card aria). Micaëla appears; faithful to her love, she has managed to get to these lonely places, in order to save Don José (aria). When hearing some steps, she becomes scared and hides. Escamillo appears, driven by his passion for Carmen. He and Don José fight briefly with their knives, but Carmen herself intervenes. Escamillo leaves happy, not before inviting everyone to his upcoming bullfight in Seville. Micaëla is discovered. Don José has to follow her, finding out that his mother is dying.


There is holiday in Seville. The crowd gets ready to acclaim Escamillo in a new bullfight. He appears smiling alongside Carmen, who is now his girlfriend. After the bullfighter enters the arena, Carmen, disobeying the advice of her friends, accepts to talk to Don José for one last time. He tries to convince her to come back to him, by all means – from declaring his love to threatening her with death.

Carmen rejects him, first scornfully, then angrily. Wishing to get rid of him as soon as possible and reach the tribunes where the crowd is cheering for Escamillo, she throws the ring he had given her into his face. Mad with jealousy, Don José stabs her to death, and afterwards confesses to his deed in front of everyone.


*Grigore Constantinescu & Daniela Caraman-Fotea, Ghid de operă, Bucharest, 1971

**Ana Buga & Cristina Maria Sârbu, 4 secole de teatru muzical, Bucharest, 1999

***Ioana Ștefănescu, O istorie a muzicii universale, Vol. IV, Bucharest, 2002