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Carmen

The Royal Opera

Francesca Zambello’s production of Bizet’s much-loved opera sets the stage alight with Spanish heat and gypsy passion.

Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of Carmen. It was last on stage 19 October—30 November 2015 as part of the Autumn 2015/16 season.

The Story

The young soldier Don José intends to marry Micaëla, a girl from his home village. But when he meets the sensual and high-spirited Carmen, he sacrifices everything to be with her.

Read more… (Contains spoilers)

Background

Carmen is the most popular work from French composer Georges Bizet. For this, his 17th and last opera, Bizet took inspiration from the popular novella by Prosper Mérimée, which had enticed French readers with exotic tales of Spain. Its heady combination of passion, sensuality and violence initially proved too much for the stage and the opera was a critical failure on its premiere in 1875. Bizet died shortly after, and never learned of the spectacular success Carmen would achieve. Popular around the world, the opera has been performed more than five hundred times at Covent Garden alone.

The opera contains many much-loved numbers, such as Carmen’s seductive Habanera and Escamillo’s rousing Toreador Song, in which he celebrates the thrill of the bullfight. In Francesca Zambello’s 2006 production for The Royal Opera, richly coloured designs by Tanya McCallin capture the sultry heat of the Spanish sun, while ranks of soldiers, crowds of peasants, gypsies and bullfighters bring 19th-century Seville to life.

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