• Carmen Classroom Activities

The activities in this guide address various aspects of Carmen:

  • The title character and her personality, choices, and claim to personal freedom
  • The opera’s innovative depiction of life on the streets
  • The rich variety of Bizet’s score
  • The new Metropolitan Opera production as a unified work of art, involving a broad range of creative decisions

The guide is designed to provoke interest in Carmen, whether or not your students have any prior acquaintance with opera. It can help you prompt them to think about opera—and the performing arts in general—as a medium of entertainment and of creative expression.

Carmen's Ideas on Liberty and Responsibility:
A Close Look at the Theme of Freedom in Carmen

Liberty is an idea with great resonance in world history, a value central to political discourse and to humanity in general. It is a concept referred to frequently with regard to Carmen—in criticism, in production notes, and in the libretto itself. But what do Bizet, Meilhac, and Halévy mean by liberty? How does their understanding of it correspond to other views found in Western thought? How does it correspond to your students’ own ideas of freedom? Can these two concepts be brought together? In this activity, students will consider the meaning of liberty and its associated concept, responsibility. They will analyze the views of liberty and responsibility presented in Carmen and consider whether Carmen, the heroine, should be the symbol of freedom many have seen in her. They will: 

  • Review and discuss a set of quotations on the subject of liberty and freedom
  • Formulate their own definitions of liberty
  • Find references to liberty and responsibility in Carmen and discuss their meanings
  • “Rewrite” Carmen according to their own notions of freedom