Mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine reprises her remarkable portrayal of opera’s ultimate seductress, a triumph in her 2017 debut performances, with impassioned tenors Yonghoon Lee and Roberto Alagna as her lover, Don José. Omer Meir Wellber and Louis Langrée share conducting duties for Sir Richard Eyre’s powerful production, a Met favorite since its 2009 premiere.
Production a gift of Mrs. Paul Desmarais Sr.
Languages sung in Carmen
Title languages displayed for Carmen
Met Titles In
Timeline for the show, Carmen
Estimated Run Time
3 hrs 21 mins
Act I & II
Act III & IV
World premiere: Opéra Comique, Paris, 1875. Bizet’s masterpiece of the gypsy seductress who lives by her own rules has had an impact far beyond the opera house. The opera’s melodic sweep is as irresistible as the title character herself, a force of nature who has become a defining female cultural figure. Carmen was a scandal at its premiere but soon after became a triumphal success and has remained one of the most frequently staged operas in the world.
Georges Bizet (1838–1875) was known as a brilliant student and prodigy, but his works only found lasting success after his untimely death—most notably Carmen, which premiered three months before he died. Librettist Henri Meilhac (1831–1897) would subsequently provide the libretto for Massenet’s Manon (1884). His collaborator on Carmen was Ludovic Halévy (1834–1908), the nephew of composer Jacques Fromental Halévy (creator of the opera La Juive and Bizet’s father-in-law). The libretto is based on a novella by Prosper Mérimée (1803–1870), a French dramatist, historian, and archaeologist.
Sir Richard Eyre
SET & COSTUME DESIGNER
REVIVAL STAGE DIRECTOR
The opera takes place in and around Seville, a city that, by the time Carmen was written, had already served many operatic composers as an exotic setting conducive to erotic intrigues and turmoil (Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, among others). The hometown of Don Juan, the city also inspired Mozart with Don Giovanni, and Beethoven used Seville as the setting for a study of marital fidelity in Fidelio.
The score of Carmen contains so many instantly recognizable tunes that it can be easy to overlook how well constructed it is. The major solos are excellent combinations of arresting melody and dramatic purpose—from the baritone’s famous Toreador Song to the tenor’s wrenching Flower Song to the title character’s alluring Habanera and Seguidilla—and the duets and ensembles are equally beguiling.