CARMEN

Rating: EX15+
Length: 221 minutes
Composer: Georges Bizet
Conductor: Pablo Heras-Casado and Louis Langrée.
Cast: Elina Garanca, Anita Rachvelishvili, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Roberto Alagna, and Jonas Kaufmann.
Overview:Richard Eyre’s stunning production returns with two of its great leading ladies, Elina Garanca and Anita Rachvelishvili, who share the title role of the ill-fated temptress. Aleksandrs Antonenko, Roberto Alagna, and Jonas Kaufmann take turns playing Carmen’s desperate lover, Don José. Pablo Heras-Casado and Louis Langrée share conducting duties.
Synopsis: 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, the gypsy 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 (Duet: “Parle-moi de ma mère”). 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 the gypsy. Carmen refuses to answer Zuniga’s questions, and José is ordered to take her to prison. Left alone with him, she entices José 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 (Quintet: “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 his 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. 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 (“Carreau! Pique!… La mort!”). 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. 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. Carmen arrives on Escamillo’s arm, and Frasquita and Mercédès warn her that José is nearby. Unafraid, she waits outside the entrance as the crowds enter the arena. José appears and begs Carmen to forget the past and start a new life with him (Duet: “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.

Reviews:
"Carmen: Anita Rachvelishvili and Brandon Jovanovich Triumph in Bizet's Masterpiece"
"Anita Rachvelishvili, sang, and she brought her customary lush voice to the role of the gypsy. It's hard to find a better singer who possesses all the qualities needed for Carmen. Not only does she have the correct voice, but she also the acting abilities and the fire for the role."
"Richard Eyre's production continues to marvel. The use of the turntable allows the action to move forward. His direction is also striking in that Carmen is always in the middle of something and in the blocking she is literally always trapped almost as if Eyre is foreshadowing her eventual murder." Latin Post
"[Anita Rachvelishvili] Her dark, throbbing mezzo-soprano, voluptuous hourglass figure, brunette glamour and magnetic stage presence tick off just about every box in the Carmen checklist. Her middle voice is a fascinating smoky color and her low notes have a tangy bite." New York Observer
"Few operas can match Bizet's Carmen for passion, jealousy, revenge, and ultimate tragedy, set to stirring and glorious music, and the Met Opera's sweeping production by Richard Eyre brings it all vividly to life." Huffington Post
* Cry Baby Session