Music by Georges Bizet
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
based on the novella by Prosper Mérimeé
Staged by A. Scott Parry
The ASO continues its season’s tribute to Spain by presenting the opera Carmen (1875) by Georges Bizet (1838-1875), a truly definitive revamping of Iberia’s exotic musical language and styles. Originally staged as a “number” opera with spoken dialogue at the Opéra Comique in Paris—later Bizet’s compatriot Charles Gounod (1818-1893) supplied accompanied recitatives—Bizet tragically died just a few months after his masterpiece’s premiere.
Carmen is the ultimate other: one of the outcast Roma (“gypsy”) people; an impoverished union worker at a cigarette factory who incites floor flights; a woman who challenges the male patriarchy by brazenly exploiting her sexual attractiveness (one of the only tangible powers women still possessed in 19th century Spain); a renegade who joins a band of smugglers; a faithless lover who abandons Don Jose, a conscientious but dull army officer who is imprisoned on her behalf but loses her to the one man who can match her sexual power, the matador Escamillo. This story can only—and does—end tragically…