Born free, lived free, died free
Composer – Georges Bizet
Librettists – Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Based on the novella by Prosper Mérimée
SUNG IN FRENCH
Don José’s life is all mapped out. A dutiful, well-respected soldier, he has his mother’s blessing to marry the woman he’s sure he loves. And then one day, unannounced and unexpected, Carmen walks into his life. From that moment on, he knows there’s no going back and that his life will never be the same again.
Carmen, the opera, and Carmen, the woman, are both full of seductive paradoxes, but Bizet’s music conspires to carry us on a journey which allows the questions to remain in play throughout. Tragedy sits side-by-side with joie-de-vivre and wit, as Carmen – born free and unwilling to let anyone or anything clip her wings – remains true to herself to the bitter end.
Telling this story presents tantalizing choices. Is Carmen calculated or helpless in her own and Don Jose’s downfall? Is Don José a cold-blooded killer or merely an infatuated lover? Are Escamillo and Micaëla victims of or witnesses to these tragic events? Bizet’s scintillating music gets under your skin and transports you to the heart of this irresistible story.
A dangerous opera of uncontrollable infatuations, hot headed violence and blistering passions. It seems impossible for this opera, written in 1875, to age. It’s power to shock, enthral and astound audiences remains as razor sharp as it ever was.
Annabel Arden and Joanna Parker are the distinctive director/designer team behind Glyndebourne’s sophisticated new Barber of Seville and Café Kafka for The Royal Opera House. Annabel brings together the same team that produced Opera North’s critically acclaimed Andrea Chénier “…. exerts irresistible visceral power… a thrilling evening that richly deserved its enthusiastic reception” to create a fiery new Carmen for The Grange Festival with one of the leading French conductors of his generation, Jean-Luc Tingaud.
Jean-Luc Tingaud was born in 1969 and studied with Manuel Rosenthal, himself a pupil of Maurice Ravel. Notable opera engagements have included Sapho, Pénélope, Le roi malgré lui(Wexford Festival), Roméo et Juliette (Lisbon), Werther (Martina Franca), La damnation de Faust(Reims), Pelléas et Mélisande and Carmen (Toulon), Le siège de Corinthe (Bad Wildbad Rossini Festival), Faust (Macerata), The Turn of the Screw (Lille), Dialogues des carmélites and Madama Butterfly (Pittsburgh), Pelléas et Mélisande (Prague), Roméo et Juliette (Arena di Verona), La fille du régiment (Madrid) and The Pearl Fishers (English National Opera).
In the 2015/16 season, Annabel Arden directed an acclaimed new production of Andrea Chernier for Opera North, and the first new production of Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Glyndebourne Festival in over 30 years, of which The Independent wrote: “With the aid of a posse of Indiarubber mime artists, and drawing on her physical- theatre background with Complicité, she pulls off trick after trick with such speed and deftness that the eye is constantly delighted and dazzled, but it’s all in the service of a convincing reading of the text and a triumphant celebration of Rossini’s musical genius.”
This season Annabel will direct a new production of Carmen for the inaugural Grange Festival; return to Welsh National Opera for La bohème – a production which will also be seen at the Dubai Opera – and she will create a new semi staging ofTurandot for Opera North, before returning to the company for a new production in the 2017/18 season.
Annabel has created productions for the ROH; Glyndebourne Festival; English National Opera; Opera North; Welsh National Opera; Teatro Regio, Torino; Opera di Firenze and for the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona – and she has directed plays for the National Theatre; Almeida Theatre; Royal Court Theatre; the BBC and the Sydney Theatre Company.
Annabel was a co-founder of the renowned British theatre company “Theatre de Complicité” in 1983.
Joanna Parker is a theatre, opera and dance designer and movement director. She has worked extensively for companies including Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne and Theatre de Complicité. Originally trained in dance and choreography, her early theatre work was based on movement. She is now a tutor on the MA Scenography course at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
Designs for opera include Il Barbiere di Siviglia for Glyndebourne; a forthcoming Turandot in spring 2017 and Andrea Chenier for Opera North; The Commission and Café Kafka, both co-productions between Aldeburgh, ROH and Opera North, and Smetana’s The Two Widows for l’Opéra d’Angers-Nantes. For English Touring Opera she designed productions of Flavio, Eugene Onegin, Falstaff, Alcina, The Marriage of Figaro, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Cunning Little Vixen (also Brno).
Joanna designed costumes for Friend of the People at Scottish Opera; The Kiss and Handel’s Flavio in Dublin and on European tour; set and costumes for Handel’s Giulio Cesare for the Royal Opera House and a site specific design for an ROH community project Heroes Don’t Dance.
For Theatre de Complicité, with the Emerson String Quartet, she designed The Noise of Time, seen in New York, London and at European festivals. Other designs include Martin Crimp’s version of The Misanthrope, American Buffalo at the Young Vic; The Robbers at the Gate; Nabokov’s Gloves and After Darwin at Hampstead and The Sarajevo Story at the Lyric Hammersmith.
Dance designs have included Phantasmaton and Hinterlands (Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company) and Pastorale for Cholmondeleys.
Opera lighting designs include: Manon Lescaut, Werther, Butterfly, Faust, Carmen, Peter Grimes (New York Met); The Damnation of Faust, Faust, Lucrezia Borgia, Madame Butterfly (ENO); Pélleas et Mélisande (Mariinsky); The Soldier’s Tale & Pierrot Lunaire (Chicago Symphony); Werther, Butterfly, Faust, Carmen, Peter Grimes (New York Met); Eugene Onegin (LA Opera/ROH); The Return of Ulysses, Luisa Miller, Tannhäuser, Falstaff, Eugene Onegin, Katya Kabanova, Fidelio, Andrea Chénier (Opera North); Passion (Minnesota Opera); La traviata, La Cenerentola (Glyndebourne); Il Trovatore (Paris); Fidelio, Two Widows, Don Giovanni, The Ring (Scottish Opera); The Midsummer Marriage (Chicago Lyric Opera); The Bartered Bride, Eugine Onegin (ROH). Peter has directed and designed concert stagings of The Ring Cycle and The Flying Dutchman for Opera North. In November, he will direct and design a concert staging of FIDELIO for Orchestre de Chambre de Paris.
Recent Ballet lighting designs: Carmen (Royal Ballet and Texas Ballet Theater/choreographed by Carlos Acosta); The King Dances, Faster, E=mc2, Take Five (Birmingham Royal Ballet); Carmen (also set design, Miami City Ballet/choreographed by Richard Alston); Ein Reigen (Vienna State Ballet).
Recent Theatre lighting designs: A Christmas Carol, Mr. Foote’s Other Leg, Top Hat (West End); Stepping Out (Bath, UK Tour; Long Day’s Journey into Night (Bristol Old Vic); Little Eyolf, Bakkhai (Almeida), High Society (Old Vic); The Merchant of Venice (RSC); King Kong (Global Creatures/Australia); Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Donkey Heart, Top Hat (West End); Ghosts (Almeida/BAM); Bull (Young Vic/Sheffield/59E59 Theater, New York); Dying City ( also set design) Love and Information, Escaped Alone, The Wolf at the Door (Royal Court); Scenes from an Execution (National Theatre); Wild, Wonderland (Hampstead theatre); The BFG (Birmingham Rep);
Awards include: Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance for The Glass Blew In and Fearful Symmetries (Royal Ballet), Olivier Award for Best Lighting for The Bacchai (National Theatre); Knight of Illumination Award for Sucker Punch (Royal Court); and the Helpmann and Green Room Awards for King Kong the musical in Melbourne.
Dick Straker has designed for many of the UK’s most distinguished stages. His numerous theatre and opera credits include Love’s Sacrifice for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Roots at the Donmar Warehouse, Going Dark at the Fuel Theatre, Tiger Country at the Hampstead Theatre, Paper Dolls and Seize the Day for the Tricycle Theatre, Tales of Ballycumber at the Abbey Theatre, The Mountaintop for Trafalgar Studios, Rushes for the Royal Ballet, Der Ring des Nibelungenat the Royal Opera House, Hitchcock Blonde at the Royal Court Theatre, Julius Caesar at the Barbican, Richard II at The Old Vic, The Woman in White at the Palace Theatre in London and the Marquis Theatre in New York, and Henry V, The Coast of Utopia,Jumpers, and The Powerbook at the National Theatre in London. Straker has also designed for fashion, commercial, and architectural projection events and is the founder of the Mesmer company, a collaboration of video and projection designers.
Meredith Oakes is a playwright, librettist, translator and writer on music, born in Sydney and living in London. She has written libretti for Gerald Barry’s The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit (Channel 4, Largo CD, Aldeburgh Festival, Berlin Festwochen etc); Thomas Ades’ The Tempest (Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Metropolitan Opera New York etc) and Francisco Coll’s Cafe Kafka (Aldeburgh, Linbury Studios Covent Garden and Opera North 2014, Valencia 2016). She is currently working on Eucalyptus with Jonathan Mills and on another commission with Francisco Coll, based on a play by Lope de Vega.
Her plays include The Neighbour, (National Theatre), The Editing Process (Royal Court Theatre), FAITH (Royal Court Theatre), Her Mother and Bartok (Hampstead Theatre), Shadowmouth (Sheffield Crucible Studio), and Scenes from the Back of Beyond (Royal Court Theatre).
She has made translations of new and classic German and French plays, including Goethe’s Iphigenia auf Tauris, and Werner Schwab’s Die Prasidentinnen and Endlich tot, Endlich Keine Luft Mehr. She is published by Oberon Books.
Born in Israel, she stepped in at very short notice to sing the title role of Carmen at the Massada Festival in 2012 under Daniel Oren, making such a big impression that she was immediately engaged for leading roles by Israeli Opera. These comprise Rosina Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Donna Elvira Don Giovanni, Fenena Nabucco, Cherubino Le Nozze di Figaro, Maddalena Rigoletto, and Stéphano Roméo et Juliette. Among other important engagements are the title role of La Cenerentola at Israeli Opera, the title role of Mariotte’s Salome at the Wexford Festival, Dorabella Così fan tutte for Ópera de Tenerife, Cornelia Giulio Cesare at the Shanghai Baroque Festival and Marchesa Melibea Il Viaggio a Reims at the Rossini Opera Festival Pesaro. She also appeared at the Wiener Konzerthaus in Haydn’s cantata Arianna a Naxos and was engaged by the Glyndebourne Festival Opera to cover both the title role of Carmen and Béatrice Béatrice et Bénédict.
Whilst a member of the Meitar Opera Studio, Na’ama Goldman performed many roles including Charlotte Werther, Hänsel Hänsel und Gretel, Orlofsky Die Fledermaus and Zweite Dame Die Zauberflöte
Among the notable conductors with whom she has appeared are David Angus, Frederic Chaslin, Carlo Goldstein, Luciano di Martino, Daniel Oren, George Pehlivanian, David Stern, Keri Lynn Wilson, Alberto Zedda and Nicola Berloffa. Directors with whom she has collaborated include Nicola Berloffa, Kirsten Harms, Jean-Louis Grinda, Giancarlo del Monaco, Alessandro Talevi, Mariusz Trelinski and Andrejs Žagars. Future plans include Carmen for Ópera De Tenerife, Siébel Faust and Hermia A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Israeli Opera.
Italian-American tenor Leonardo Capalbo has garnered international acclaim for his performances throughout the United States and Europe. Lauded for his rich, lyric voice and dramatic intensity, Capalbo has received acclaim at houses such as Berliner Staatsoper, Teatro Real Madrid, Glyndebourne Festival, L’Opéra de Lyon, Teatro Regio di Torino, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Semperoper Dresden, Grand Théâtre de Genève, New York City Opera and Welsh National Opera amongst others.
In 16/17 Capalbo will return the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden to perform the title role in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffman. Other engagements include Don José Carmen in Sevilla, Duca Rigoletto (Wichita Opera) and Alfredo La Traviata (Teatr Wielki – Opera Narodowa) in Warsaw.
A trainee of the Juilliard School of Music, The Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and L’Académie Musicale de Villecroze, Capalbo worked under the guidance of the legendary Marilyn Horne. He made his operatic debut in 2004 as Paco in de Falla’s La Vida Breve for Opera North. Further engagements with the company included Ismaele Nabucco, later released on Chandos; Romeo Romeo et Juliette; Narraboth Salome; and Juan in Weill’s Der Kuhhandel.
Last season Capalbo made two important house debuts: La Monnaie, with Mariusz Trelinski’s Powder Her Face and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Ismaele Nabucco. Other important debuts included his first Cavaradossi at Minnesota Opera, Don Jose Carmen at Palm Beach Opera, which he reprised at the Greek National Opera, and Arturo in La Straniera at the Concertgebouw, part of the prestigious Saturday Matinée Series.
UK-based baritone, Phillip Rhodes, begins the 2016-17 Season in his native country New Zealand where he appears as Judge Turpin Sweeney Todd and covering the title role. He returns to his home in the UK to appear as Mizgir The Snowmaiden and as Peter/Father Hansel und Gretel, both for Opera North (UK). He participates in the inauguration of the new festival at The Grange with his portrayal of Escamillo Carmen, his role debut. Recent highlights include two roles at Opera New Zealand: as Scarpia Tosca in a new production and his debut as Pere Germont La Traviata. He won exceptional reviews for his performance as Enrico Lucia de Lammermoor at Auckland Opera Studio, and joined the artist roster at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, to cover the role under the aegis of a special grant provided by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation. Phillip acknowledges with gratitude the ongoing support of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, and the professional guidance of Dame Kiri.
Possessing a voice described by Opéra Magazine as one that “offers a balance of exciting sureness and incredible force,” Soprano Shelley Jackson has established herself as a quickly rising artist at international opera houses in both Europe and the US. The 2016 – 2017 season sees Ms. Jackson’s role and house debut as Mimi in La bohème at the Salzburger Landestheater, conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, as well as her house debut at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Italy as Micaëla in the Calixto Bieito production of Carmen. Last season saw Ms. Jackson’s final year with the International Opera Studio of Opernhaus Zürich, where she made role debuts as Musetta in a new production of La bohème and Micaëla in Carmen. She also returned to Santa Fe Opera as the Italian Singer in Capriccio, directed by Tim Albery, and to cover the role of Juliette in Roméo et Juliette.
Additional highlights as a studio member at Opernhaus Zürich include the leading role of Song- Lian in the world premiere production of Rote Laterne by Christian Jost, the covers of Cecilia Bartoli as Countess Adele in Le comte Ory, Diana Damrau as Adina in L’elisir d’amore, and Giulietta in a new production of I Capuleti ed i Montecchi led by Fabio Luisi, as well as Maid Marian in Robin Hood and die Vertraute in Elektra.
Before completing his studies with the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist’s program in 2009, Russian-American bass Grigory Soloviov attended the prestigious Moscow State Conservatory. Mr. Soloviov has won or been placed as a finalist in many prestigious vocal competitions globally, including the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions in Washington, DC, the XIII International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition, and the Giulio Gari Foundation Competition.
Mr. Soloviov performed on numerous stages across the world, among which are the Metropolitan Opera, Gran Teatro La Fenice, the Washington National Opera, Bolshoi Academic State Theatre, Helikon-Opera, the Dallas Opera, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Opéra National de Lyon, Opéra de Tours, Opéra De Montréal, the Palm Beach Opera, Connecticut Grand Opera, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
His concert work includes appearances with such orchestras as the Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra and Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco.
Between appearances on Russian stages, Mr. Soloviov is also in great demand as a judge for vocal competitions held across the nation.
Toby is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and continues to study with Robert Dean. He was a member of the Glyndebourne Opera Festival Chorus in the Michael Grandage production of Billy Budd, in which he also sang the role of Arthur Jones and covered the role of Donald. His most current and future engagements include Nicomedes Der König Kandaules and Pallante Agrippina (De Vlaamse Opera), Belcore L’elisir d’amore (Scottish Opera), Angelo Das Liebesverbot (Chelsea Opera Group at Cadogan Hall), and Sam Trouble in Tahiti (Oper Leipzig on tour in Bolzano), a role which he also sang with the Wexford Festival.
The French-Belgian soprano Marianne made her debut at the Lyon’s National Opera House as the Fifth Maid in Elektra by Strauss in a production staged by Ruth Berghaus and conducted by Hartmut Haenchen.
Winner of the first prize at the Dexia Classics competition at 18 years old, she instantly fell in love with the stage, performing in several major concert halls of Belgium including the Théâtre de la Monnaie. Then she was performing Gretel in Humperdinck ‘s « Hänsel und Gretel », Constance in Poulenc’s « The dialogues of Carmelites » , Louise de Vilmorin in Hahn’s « La Carmélite » as well as Sophia Schliemann for the creation of the contempory opera « Iliade l’amour » by Betsy Jolas. She also created the role of Calypso in « Les Constellations, une théorie » composed by Josephine Stephenson.
She collaborated with David Reiland, Hartmut Haenchen for opera productions, with Raphaël Pichon for Bach and Buxtehude’s cantatas, with Emmanuelle Haïm for Lully’s air de cour. Under the direction of Cornelius Meister, she performed at the Paris’ Philharmonie as « The first Elf » in “A midsummer night’s dream” by F. Mendelssohn.
She started her musical education with piano and violin and choosed to dedicate herself to a career of singer when she was fifteen. In 2011 Marianne joined The « Conservatoire National Supérieur de Danse et de Musique » of Paris in Chantal Mathias’ class. She has been graduated in june 2016 and got her master with the highest mention and unanimous congratulations of the jury. At the beginning of 2015, she had the opportunity to be part of a student exchange at the Manhattan School of Music in New York where she studied with the mezzo-soprano Mignon Dunn. Marianne was a member of the opera studio of Lyon’s National Opera House and will be part next season of the Atelier Lyrique at the Paris’ National Opera House.
South African/Portuguese soprano Filipa Van Eck studied at the Royal College of Music International Opera School as the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Scholar.
Her recent and future engagements include the Opera Highlights Tour with Scottish Opera; Maria West Side Story in a revival and tour for Cape Town Opera; her debut at the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Lisbon and Anna Intermezzo in concert performance at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.
On the operatic stage Filipa has performed the title role of The Cunning Little Vixen; Maria West Side Story; Corinna Il viaggio a Reims and Valencienne Die lustige Witwe for Cape Town Opera; Sabine Adriano in Siria for the Classical Opera Company; Susanna Le nozze di Figaro, Lisetta La Gazzetta, Gabrielle La Vie Parisienne, L’Enfant L’Enfant et les Sortilèges at the RCM; the title role of Arianna in Creta and Rosmene Imeneo for the London Handel Festival; Barbarina The Little Green Swallow by Jonathan Dove for British Youth Opera and Poppea L’incoronazione di Poppea for English Touring Opera.
Portuguese baritone Tiago Matos was a member of the Atelier Lyrique at the Opéra national de Paris, he made his debut as Fiorello Il barbiere di Sivigila in a production by Damiano Michieletto, conducted by Carlo Montanaro; at the theatre he has also appeared as Un Chevalier Le Roi Arthus (Chausson) and most recently as Ceprano in a new production of Rigoletto directed by Claus Guth and conducted by Nicola Luisotti.
Tiago recently sang Le Chanteur de Serenade Les Caprices de Marianne (Sauget) – this production has just won “Le grand prix Claude Rostand du meilleur spectacle lyrique en region”, after some successful performances in the Opéra de Reims, Opéra de Massy, Opéra de Avignon, Opéra de Marseille, Opéra national de Bordeaux and Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse among other French theatres.
Tiago made his debut at the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos as Janino O Basculho de Chaminé, and was a member of the São Carlos Opera Studio in 2011.
Tiago’s engagements this season include Dancaire in Calixto Bieto’s producition of Carmen at the Teatro São Carlos; the Charpentier Te Deum for the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon and he will return to the Opéra national de Paris for a variety of engagements over the coming seasons.
Christophe Poncet de Solages graduated from the Conservatory in Amsterdam and later on improved his skills in France with Polish soprano Maria Sartova and French bass Lionel Sarrazin.
A guest soloist with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, he has had the opportunity to sing Bach’s Weihnachts-Oratorium and the role of Ein junger Hirt in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at Salle Pleyel in Paris.
He has also appeared as Bert II in Zoran Juranic’s opera Posljednji ljetni cvijet and Oedipus in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex during the 2013 Armel Opera Festival in Szeged, Hungary.
His vast repertoire comprises works by Britten, Stravinsky, Mussorgsky, Janáček. He has performed Chevalier de la Force in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, Mozart’s Tamino and Belmonte, Monteverdi’s and Haydn’s Orfeo, as well as Pâris in Offenbach’s La belle Hélène, Simpleton in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Offenbach’s Hoffmann, and has recorded in French the part of Alfredo in La Traviata.
Recent and forthcoming projects include among others Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle with Le Choeur de Chambre de Versailles, the role of Orphée in Offenbach’s Orphée aux Enfers, Pomponnet in la fille de Madame Angot by Lecocq and Camille de Rossillon in Lehar’s Merry Widow.
Seville in the 19th Century
A Square in Seville
The military are on watch outside a tobacco factory in Seville, waiting for the change of the guard. Peasant girl, Micaëla, descends upon the scene on the hunt for her lover, the corporal Don José. Seeing he isn’t there, she leaves, intending to return later. Soon after she has left Don José arrives with the new guard. The factory bell rings and the workers tumble out, including the sultry gypsy girl Carmen, who draws attention to herself with an impressive entrance gaining the attention of all the men – all that is except Don José, who remains aloof and unimpressed by the spectacle she is making of herself. When the men demand that Carmen chooses a lover she tosses a rose over to Don José, who has been ignoring her, to indicate that he is her man of choice. The women return to work and as they do so Don José picks up the flower, looking at it, unsure how he should feel. Micaëla appears and he quickly hides the flower from her. She brings a letter from his mother urging him to return home soon and to marry Micaëla. Just as Don José tells the shy Michaela that he is ready and eager to follow his mother’s suggestion, a fight suddenly breaks out in the factory between Carmen and another one of the working girls; Carmen has threatened her with a knife. Lieutenant Zuniga immediately sends Don José to fetch Carmen. When Zuniga confronts her she refuses to respond coherently, instead mocking and ridiculing him, which only infuriates him further. Don José is instructed to tie Carmen up whilst Zuniga prepares a warrant for her arrest. When Don José and Carmen are alone together she seduces him into imagining what it might be like to be her lover, and through her enchanting words she effects her escape. She runs off laughing and Don José is arrested for negligence and disregard of his duty.
The Inn of Lillas Pastia
Off duty officers, soldiers and smugglers congregate to drink at an inn and to be entertained by women who sing and dance for them. One of these women happens to be Carmen. During the entertainments, an officer lets slip to Carmen that Don José has been released from prison and is on his way to her. Bursting in on the scene comes the famous bullfighter, Escamillo, who parades his successes as a Toreador, and as he boasts to the crowds he notices Carmen. He seeks to impress her and tries to capture her heart, but she is immoveable, taunting him with claims that she belongs to another man.
Finally, the crowds depart leaving Carmen, two of her girl friends and the smugglers Dancaïre and Remendado who want the women’s help with their latest illegal scheme. Carmen refuses, insisting she must wait for Don José.
When Don Jose arrives she teases him with stories about the attentions she had been receiving from the men in the bar. When she sees that he’s suitably jealous, she cools the heat of jealousy with a special offering: a private dance, only for his eyes. She mesmerizes him. But the sound of a bugle interrupts her hypnotic dance, a sound commanding Don José to return to the barracks. Carmen berates him for even considering leaving her, and he tries to placate her by showing her the flower that she threw at him in the bar; the whole time that he was in prison he kept it close to him as a symbol of his commitment to her. Unimpressed, she challenges him, saying that if he loved her truly he would leave the army and begin a new life with her. When Don José refuses, Carmen tells him to leave. Just as he is about to go, Lieutenant Zuniga enters on the hunt for Carmen, hoping to have her for himself. Unable to control his jealousy, Don José threatens his superior and they fight. Carmen quickly calls to the smugglers for help; they separate the brawling soldiers and restrain Zuniga. There is no going back for Don José now. Having physically assaulted his superior officer he must abandon his duty, leave the army, and escape with Carmen after all.
Don José and Carmen camp out with the smugglers and gypsies in the mountains. Don José knows that he has destroyed his career and Carmen, already boring of his tedious, pensive moods suggests that he leave and run back to his mother. Preferring the company of the girls, Carmen joins them in a game of cards, looking to them to read their fortunes and to discover what the future holds. Carmen is taken aback when each time she draws a card she is faced with spades, an omen of death.
The women head off with the smugglers to distract the customs officers, and Don José remains keeping guard. Micaëla enters looking for Don José, desperate to win him back. A gunshot is heard, and she quickly hides, scared of being seen and of getting hurt. The shot was actually fired by her own Don José. An intruder had emerged and he had reacted, not realising that the intruder was Escamillo. Don José discovers that Escamillo’s purpose for seeking them out was to find Carmen, intent on becoming her lover. A fight erupts and Carmen steps between them, demanding that it stop. Leaving open the offer of an invitation to the forthcoming bullfight in Seville, Escamillo leaves.
Micaëla reveals herself from her place, and is distraught to see Don José looking so desperate and unhappy. She urges him to leave with her. Carmen continues to taunt him, mocking his inability to adapt to the lifestyle of a gypsy. Don José, aggravated, impassioned and angry, does not want to leave but is finally persuaded by the news that his mother is dying. However he warns Carmen, in no uncertain terms, that he will return and she will be his.
A Square in Seville
The crowds await the arrival of the bullfighters. As they appear, they cheer and applaud enjoying the splendour that this scene affords. On Escamillo’s arm is none other than Carmen, stunningly dressed and lapping up the attention of the crowd around her. Carmen and Escamillo profess their love for each other, committing to a future together. As he leaves her to enter the arena, her friends warn her that Don José has returned and is not far away. She waits for him, ready and willing to talk to him and end their relationship once and for all. Don José, however, has other ideas. He begs Carmen to leave Seville with him and talks persistently about his undying love for her. Unable to reciprocate, no longer in love with him and desperate for the encounter to end, Carmen hurls the ring Don José had given her to the floor, turns her back on him, and walks away to the arena. In a chaotic fury, he races towards her to stop her leaving and blocks her path to the arena. He confronts Carmen about her feelings for Escamillo and she shamelessly admits her love for him. Don José can bear it no longer and as she tries to push past him he stabs her. Against a background of cheers for Escamillo’s success in the arena, Carmen dies, held tightly by the forever guilty and heartbroken Don José.