Opera in three acts
The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée
The opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique, Paris, March 3, 1875
Premiere in Georgia: Tbilisi Opera Theatre, October 15, 1875.
Carmen, a gypsy – Irina Aleksidze
Don José, a corporal - Armaz Darashvili
Escamillo, a matador – Giorgi Lomiseli
Micaëla, a peasant girl – Anna Imedashvili
Le Dancaïre, smuggler - Irakli Mujiri
Le Remendado, smuggler - Giorgi Khoperia
Frasquita, a gypsy friend of Carmen - Ira Iosebidze-Mamaladze
Mercédès, a gypsy friend of Carmen - Albane Carrère
Zuniga, a lieutenant – Zaza Gagua
Moralès, a corporal - Lasha Sesitashvili
Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theatre Chorus, Orchestra and Ballet Company
Musical director of the production Zaza Azmaiparashvili
Conductor Alvise Casellati (Italy)
Chorus Master Avtandil Chkhenkeli
Director Levan Tsuladze
Set Designer Irakli Avaliani
Costume Designer Polina Rudchik
Stage Manager Marina Burchuladze
*The late-comers will not be allowed in until the first interval.
A square in Seville.
Outside the cigarette factory, soldiers on guard duty are watching the passers-by and waiting for the changing of the guard. Micaëla comes looking for Don José, her fiancé, but Moralès, a corporal, tells her he belongs to another company and she leaves. The change of the guard arrives, among them Corporal José and Lieutenant Zuniga.
The factory bell rings and the people press forward to see the cigarette girls come out - everybody wants to catch sight of Carmen, the most seductive gypsy girl. She enters and sings her provocative Habanera on the untameable nature of love. But only one soldier of the guard, Don José, doesn’t pay any attention to her. As Carmen leaves she provocatively throws him a flower, which he hides just as Micaëla comes back. She brings José greetings from his mother who lives far away and that seems to take his mind off Carmen. Suddenly screams are heard from the cigarette factory. The cigarette girls rush out to say that a fight has started between Carmen and another woman. Zuniga sends José to restore order. Lieutenant Zuniga conducts a brief interrogation, but Carmen cheekily hums to herself instead of answering his questions. Carmen is blamed, promptly arrested and handed over to Don José to take her to prison. Later, left alone with José in the prison, Carmen beguiles him with a seguidilla, and promises him a rendezvous at Lillas Pastia’s tavern. Zuniga arrives with an order for Carmen’s arrest. With José’s help she escapes.
At Lillas Pastia’s tavern
Carmen and her gypsy friends Frasquita and Mercédès are singing and dancing. Lieutenant Zuniga, who woos the gypsy girl, is among the somewhat dubious people in the establishment. Carmen learns from him that José was demoted and sent to prison for allowing her to escape.
A torchlight procession announces the arrival of the bullfighter, Escamillo, who Zuniga invites in, and he introduces himself singing his famous Toreador song. He is attracted to Carmen, but she ignores him saying she is not available.
It’s closing time. Lillas Pastia hustles the crowds and the soldiers out of the tavern. Zuniga promises to return to see Carmen.
Everybody leaves. Only the three girls and Pastia remain in the tavern. Pastia tells them that the smugglers Le Dancaïre and Le Remendado have come to ask the three Gypsy girls to join them on a smuggling expedition. Frasquita and Mercédès are eager to help but Carmen refuses as she wishes to wait for José - and he arrives. The soldier and the gypsy remain alone, and she sings and dances for him, accompanying herself with the castanets. A distant bugle call is heard and Don José, who has been demoted to the rank of private, says he must now return to the barracks. Carmen dances for him, but when the retreat sounds he starts to leave and she mocks him saying he does not love her. Don José answers by showing her the ﬂower she threw him in the square. Carmen still has her doubts and urges him to follow her to the mountains. Suddenly Zuniga returns and orders José to leave. The two soldiers fight but Carmen summons the smugglers who disarm Zuniga. José has no choice but to join the band of smugglers.
A wild and remote spot, mountains.
Night in the mountains. Carmen, José and the smugglers enter, carrying their loot. José regrets his choice. Carmen has now become bored with him and tells him scornfully that he should go back to his mother. Frasquita and Mercédès frivolously read their own good fortune in the cards. Carmen joins them and ﬁnds that the cards foretell death for her and Don José. The smugglers and the women depart to do their business whilst José remains on guard.
Micaëla appears with a mountain guide looking for the gypsies. She has decided to rescue José from Carmen, but on hearing a gunshot she hides in fear. Escamillo, who has come looking for Carmen appears. José challenges him and the two men begin to fight with knives, but Carmen intervenes, the smugglers return and break up the fight. Escamillo leaves, but before this he invites the band of smugglers to his next bullfight. The smugglers are about to leave when Le Rememdado discovers Micaëla hiding. She tells José that his mother is seriously ill. He follows Micaëla and despite Carmen’s mockery, he vows to come back and warns her that they will meet again.
A square in Seville. At the back, the walls of an ancient arena
In the square in front of the bullfight arena, Escamillo, who is Carmen’s new lover, is welcomed by the spectators. Frasquita and Mercédès warn Carmen that Don José is here. Everyone goes into the arena, only Carmen stays outside. In vain José begs her to return to him. Carmen attempts to enter the arena, however, José stands in her way. She contemptuously throws down the ring he gave her. In his rage José stabs Carmen to death as acclamations of the toreador’s victory are heard. Escamillo surrounded by the crowd appear and, José confesses to killing the woman he loved.