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“A DARING NEW PRODUCTION ... TAKES FLIGHT. ... A Carmen that felt alive.” —The Washington Post
“A magnetic Aigul Akhmetshina ... TRULY IMPRESSIVE” —The New York Times
On January 27, acclaimed English director Carrie Cracknell brings a vital new production of one of opera’s most enduringly powerful works, reinvigorating the classic story with a staging that moves the action to the modern day and finds at the heart of the drama issues that could not be more relevant today: gendered violence, abusive labor structures, and the desire to break through societal boundaries. Dazzling young mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina leads a powerhouse quartet of stars in the complex and volatile title role, alongside tenor Piotr Beczała as Carmen’s troubled lover Don José, soprano Angel Blue as the loyal Micaëla, and bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen as the swaggering Escamillo. Daniele Rustioni conducts Bizet’s heart-pounding score.
English StreamText captioning is available for the Met’s transmission of Carmen here. A transcript of the transmission will also be available to view after the live performance.
Buy tickets for Carmen live in the opera house here.
The Met gratefully acknowledges the support of Adrienne Arsht, the Berry Charitable Foundation, and Elizabeth M. and Jean-Marie R. Eveillard
Timeline for the show, Carmen
ESTIMATED RUN TIME
3 HRS 55 MINS, with one intermission
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.
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.