By Georges Bizet, with a libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy • March 26, 29, April 1, 3, 2022
Set in 1830 Seville, Spain, Carmen is a roller-coaster of lust, deception, and murder. Fiery free-spirit Carmen, who lives her life to the fullest, can have any man she wants. But when she seduces naïve Corporal Don José, she gets more than she bargains for.
Carmen works in a cigarette factory. When a knife fight with another employee leads to her arrest, she charms Corporal Don José into letting her escape. Like a moth drawn to a flame, Don José forsakes his military career and the innocent peasant girl Micaëla for a life on the lam with Carmen and a band of smugglers. Never one to settle down, the passionate Carmen gets bored with Don José and becomes involved with the glamourous, testosterone-filled bullfighter Escamillo. Left with nothing, Don José decides that if he can’t have Carmen, no one can.
Full of magnetic melodies, colorful costumes, and tragic twists, you’ll fall in love with George Bizet’s one-and-only Carmen.
Bob Rak: Lillas Pastia+
Maire Therese Carmack*: Mercedes
The Artistic Team
Conductor - Antony Walker
Stage Director - Garnett Bruce
Set Designer - R. Keith Brumley
Costume Designer - Sarasota Opera Association, Inc.
Lighting Designer - Andrew Ostrowski
Wig and Make-up Designer - James Geier
Stage Manager - Cindy Knight
Asst Conductor - Glenn Lewis
Chorus Master - Mark Trawka
Associate Coach/Pianist - James Lesniak
Asst Stage Director - Kaley Karis Smith*
Asst Wig and Make-up Designer - Nicole Pagano
Asst Stage Manager - Alex W. Seidel
Asst Stage Manager - Jin Ah Lee
+ Pittsburgh Opera debut
* Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
** Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni
Listen to Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn give a brief synopsis of Carmen featuring excerpts from this 1975 Decca recording with Sir Georg Solti conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra:
Click play below or download these excerpts for an offline treat!
- "Overture" - performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra
- “L’Amour est un Oiseau Rebelle” - sung by Tatiana Troyanos as Carmen with the John Alldis Choir
- "Parle-Moi De Ma Mère!" - sung by Placido Domingo as Don José and Kiri Te Kanawa as Micaela
- “Près des Remparts De Séville” - sung by Tatiana Troyanos as Carmen
- "Votre Toast, Je Peuz Vous Le Rendre” - sung by Jose van Dam as Escamillo with the John Alldis Choir
- "La Fleur Que Tu M’Avais Jetee” - sung by Placido Domingo as Don Jose
- “Bel Officier” - performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra
Act III and IV
- "Entracte #2” - performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra
- "Je Dis Que Rien Ne M’Épouvante” - sung by Kiri Te Kanawa as Micaela
- “Hola! Hola! Jose!” - sung by Placido Domingo as Don José
- "Entr’Acte #3" - performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra
ACT I. In Seville by 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, Carmen. She tells her admirers that love is free and obeys no rules ("L’amour est un oiseau rebelle"). Only one man pays no attention to her: Don José. 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 ("Ma mere, je la vois"). 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 Carmen. She refuses to answer Zuniga’s questions, and José is ordered to take her to prison. Left alone with him, she entices Jose with suggestions of a rendezvous at Lillas Pastia’s tavern ("Près des remparts de Séville"). Mesmerized, he agrees to let her get away. As they leave for prison, Carmen escapes. Don José is arrested.
ACT II. Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès entertain the guests at the tavern ("Les tringles des sistres tintaient"). Zuniga tells Carmen that José has just been released. The bullfighter Escamillo enters, boasting about the pleasures of his profession ("Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre"), 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 ("Nous avons en tête une affaire"). Frasquita and Mercédès are willing to help, but Carmen refuses because she is in love. The smugglers withdraw as José approaches.
Carmen arouses José's jealousy by telling him how she danced for Zuniga. She dances for him now, but when a bugle call is heard he says he must return to the barracks ("Je vais danser en votre honneur"). 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 ("La fleur que tu m’avais jetée"). 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.
ACT III. Carmen and José quarrel in the smugglers’ mountain hideaway. 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 ("Melons! Coupons!").
Micaëla appears, frightened by the mountains and afraid to meet the woman who has turned José into a criminal ("Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante"). 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 ("Je suis Escamillo"). The smugglers separate them, and Escamillo invites everyone, Carmen in particular, 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.
ACT IV. Back in Seville, the crowd cheers the bullfighters on their way to the arena ("A deux cuartos"). Carmen arrives on Escamillo’s arm, and Frasquita and Mercédès warn her that Jose is nearby. Unafraid, she waits outside the entrance as the crowds enter the arena. Jose appears and begs Carmen to forget the past and start a new life with him ("C’est toi! C’est moi!"). 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 to death.
- Adapated from Opera News
We want you to have the best experience possible at our performances!
- Run time: 3 hours and 15 minutes including two intermissions
- Understand Every Word: Carmen is sung in French, but has English supertitles projected above the stage at all performances
- Parking Downtown: get real-time parking availability
- Pre-Opera Talks before each performance
- Braille Programs available at The Benedum Center
- Large-Print Programs available at The Benedum Center
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has implemented new security and bag policies, effective starting October 1, 2016, at the Benedum Center and their other venues.