Friday, January 28, 2022 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, January 30, 2022 at 2:30 PM
The Morrison Center
Music by Georges Bizet (sung in French)
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Based on a 1845 novella of the same name by French dramatist Prosper Mérimée
Everyone is drawn to Carmen, an irresistible Romani woman—except Corporal Don José. But even he soon succumbs to her seduction, fleeing a life in the military to join the Romani world, all in Carmen’s name. When the famous bullfighter Escamillo begins to win her affection, however, a dangerous love triangle grows. Micaëla, Don José’s hometown sweetheart, attempts to take him from Carmen’s grasp, but to no avail—fate has already dealt its hand. With its twisting tale of romance, deceit, and disaster set to magnetic melodies, Bizet’s masterpiece, Carmen, has become one of the world’s most popular operas.
New Social Distancing Protocol
If you or your guests would like to practice social distancing while at The Morrison Center, you may do so by finding an empty seat in the balcony. We are not selling or assigning seats in the balcony, seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Spain, 1936, early in the Spanish Civil War. After a short but violent fight, General Franco’s fascist army has occupied the city. Outside a cigarette factory, soldiers comment on the townspeople. Among them is Micaëla, a peasant girl, who asks for a corporal named Don José. Moralès, another corporal, tells her he will return with the changing of the guard. The relief guard, headed by Lieutenant Zuniga, soon arrives, and José learns from Moralès that Micaëla has been looking for him. When the factory bell rings, the men of Seville gather to watch the female workers—especially their favorite, the Romani woman Carmen. Put off by the constant and unwanted attention she receives, she says that love is free and obeys no rules. After Jose rescues her from the mob, Carmen throws a flower at him, and the girls go back to work. José picks up the flower and hides it when Micaëla returns. She brings a letter from José’s mother, who lives in a village in the countryside. As he begins to read the letter, Micaëla leaves. José is about to throw away the flower when a fight erupts inside the factory between Carmen and another girl. Zuniga sends José to retrieve the combatants. Carmen refuses to answer Zuniga’s questions, and José is ordered to take her to prison. Left alone with him, and terrified to be arrested because of her Republican leanings, she entices José with suggestions of a rendezvous at Lillas Pastia’s tavern. Mesmerized, he agrees to let her get away. As they leave for prison, Carmen escapes. Don José is arrested.
Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès entertain the guests at the tavern. Zuniga tells Carmen that José has just been released. The bullfighter Escamillo enters, boasting about the pleasures of his profession, and flirts with Carmen, who tells him that she is involved with someone else. After the tavern guests have left with Escamillo, the smugglers Dancaïre and Remendado explain their latest scheme to the women. Frasquita and Mercédès are willing to help, but Carmen refuses because she is in love. The smugglers withdraw as José approaches. Carmen tells him how she danced for Zuniga, and Jose’s jealousy gets the better of him. She dances for him now, but when a bugle call is heard he says he must return to the barracks. Carmen mocks him. To prove his love, José shows her the flower she threw at him and confesses how its scent made him not lose hope during the weeks in prison. She is unimpressed: if he really loved her, he would desert the army and join her in a life of freedom in the mountains. José refuses, and Carmen tells him to leave. Zuniga bursts in, and in a jealous rage José fights him. The smugglers return and disarm Zuniga. José now has no choice but to join them.
The smugglers pause in the mountains on their way to deliver food and supplies to the resistance in Seville. Carmen, tired of his jealousy and ill temper, quarrels with Jose. She admits that her love is fading and advises him to return to live with his mother. When Frasquita and Mercédès turn the cards to tell their fortunes, they foresee love and riches for themselves, but Carmen’s cards spell death—for her and for José. Micaëla appears, frightened by the mountains and afraid to meet the woman who has turned José into a criminal. She hides when a shot rings out. José has fired at an intruder, who turns out to be Escamillo. He tells José that he has come to find Carmen, and the two men fight. The smugglers separate them, and Escamillo invites everyone, to his next bullfight. When he has left, Micaëla emerges and begs José to return home. He agrees when he learns that his mother is dying, but before he leaves he warns Carmen that they will meet again.
Back in Seville, the fascist regime is throwing a bullfight to raise morale in the city, and the smugglers use this distraction to deliver their supplies. Carmen arrives on Escamillo’s arm, and Frasquita and Mercédès warn her that José is nearby. Unafraid, she waits outside the entrance as the crowds enter the arena. José appears and begs Carmen to forget the past and start a new life with him. She calmly tells him that their affair is over: she was born free and free she will die. The crowd is heard cheering Escamillo. José keeps trying to win Carmen back. She takes off his ring and throws it at his feet before heading for the arena. José stabs her. In his rage, he cries out for someone to arrest him, but there is nobody there, and justice is not served.