Georges Bizet

opera in three acts

Tuesday | 20 September 2022|19:00

Age 12+

Дирижер – Николай Колядко


Libretto: Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée
Musical director: recipient of the Francysk Skaryna Medal Andrei Galanov
Director: recipient of the Francysk Skaryna Medal Galina Galkovskaya
Designer: Anna Kontek
Chorus master: People’s Artist of Belarus, laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Belarus Nina Lomanovich
Choreography: Honoured Artist of the Republic of Belarus Yuliya Dziatko, People’s Artist of Belarus Kanstantsin Kuzniatsou
Lighting designer: Lyudmila Kunash
Conductors: Aleh Lessoun, Vladimir Ovodok
Running time: 3 hours 20 minutes with two intervals
Sung in French with Russian surtitles
Premiere: 14 June 2015



Act I
Scene I

A young girl, Micaëla, approaches the dragoons who are on duty near the tobacco factory in Seville. She is seeking José. Born into a noble family and brought up in accordance with old traditions, he studied to be a priest, but one day he accidentally killed a friend of his during a game, which made him take flight and join the army. José’s mother and her foster child Micaëla followed him and settled in a village not far from the town.

After the changing of the guard Lieutenant Zuniga asks José, who has come with the relief guard, whether the factory female workers are young and beautiful. Meanwhile, the menfolk gather: the girls will soon have a break. Everyone rapturously welcomes the feistiest and prettiest girl, Carmen. Exasperated by José’s inattention to her, she uses all her charm to attract his interest and finally succeeds. As she runs away, she teasingly throws a flower of acacia at José.

Micaëla returns and brings José a letter from his mother. José tries to put the gloomy impressions of the encounter with Carmen out of his mind by recollecting his home and thinking about the future marriage to Micaëla.   

A fracas is heard from the factory. Zuniga sends José to find out what’s happening. He learns that Carmen has attacked another girl and wounded her with a knife. Zuniga orders José to take the gypsy to prison and leaves for the arrest warrant. Carmen is lucky again: she beguiles him so he finally lets her get away. To thank him, she promises him unforgettable nights of love. They arrange a tryst at Lillas Pastia’s tavern in the suburbs of Seville.

Act II
Scene II

José is demoted and arrested, but is due to be released soon. This is what Carmen has been told at Lillas Pastia’s tavern by Zuniga whose attempts to win her favour are in vain: her mind is completely occupied by José. She is sure that they have been destined to meet each other.

Accompanied by his friends and numerous admirers, the famous toreador Escamillo enters the tavern: the officers have invited the valiant torero to celebrate his beautiful victory. Escamillo immediately sets his sight on the proud and pert Carmen, but she is unwilling to fall into the toreador’s arms. While leaving, Escamillo promises that one day he will win the favour of the obstinate Carmen. The tavern visitors follow him.  

At that moment, under the cover of night, two smugglers, Remendado and Dancaïre, who sometimes have Carmen and her friends Mercédès and Frasquita as their accomplices, enter the tavern. They have a plan for which they need the girls’ help. The gang members are sure of its success, but Carmen refuses to go: she must keep her promise and wait for José to arrive. Apart from being thankful for her freedom, she thinks that for the first time in her life she has fallen in love. Dancaïre suggests enticing the dragoon into joining the gang. 

Anticipating his rendezvous with Carmen, José enters the tavern. Carmen is overjoyed to see him: she dances and sings for him alone with tenderness and passion which has never been shown to anyone. The long-awaited meeting is interrupted by the sound of bugles: José has to return to the barracks. Carmen is outraged: how can he leave such a woman like her?  José is in despair. Neither his sincere acknowledgement of love, nor his entreaties, nor his pleas can mollify Carmen. The wilful gypsy drives José off: if he really loved her, he would leave everything and flee with her and her friends to the mountains where freedom awaited them.

José is alarmed at the thought of desertion; he is desperately in love with Carmen, but his sense of duty triumphs over love. Suddenly Zuniga returns to the tavern intending to spend the night with the desirable Carmen. José attacks him with a weapon. Now he has no choice but to join them and the criminal life. Carmen is happy. The smugglers and the girl celebrate their triumph.

Scene III

The ruins of an old fortress in the mountain gorge are the smugglers’ hideout. Trying not to stumble or fall into the abyss, they move towards the border.  José is still torn between the sense of duty and the passion; his relations with Carmen are tense: José’s jealousy torments Carmen. She realizes that José is not fit for the life of a smuggler and advises him to return home, but the mere thought of a possible break-up drives him into a frenzy.

During a rest break Frasquita and Mercédès turn the cards to tell their fortunes. One foresees an old but rich husband, the other foresees passionate love. The girls are joined by Carmen. Her cards persistently spell death: her death will be followed by that of José. Cold and fear pierce Carmen’s heart.

Dancaïre enters: he needs girls who can distract the customs officers’ attention. Carmen gladly agrees to do it. José is placed on guard duty and stays in the gorge.

Micaëla, who is seeking her beloved José to rescue him from the charms of the fatal gypsy, enters the smugglers’ hideout. José’s shot frightens Micaëla, and she hides into the ravine. José is surprised to recognize the darling of the plaza de toros Escamillo in the stranger. His passion for Carmen has driven him here.

José is outraged; a fight breaks out, and only Carmen’s sudden arrival rescues Escamillo from certain death. Thankful for his rescue, he invites her and all those present to his next bullfight. Beside himself with jealousy, José lunges at Carmen, and only Micaëla’s sudden appearance with the news about his mother’s deadly disease makes José leave promptly. He is forced to part with Carmen, but he promises to return to her.

Scene IV

A square in front of the circus in Seville. The bullfight is about to begin. Carmen learns from her girl friends that José is amid the crowd in the square, but she will not hide, she is not a person like that. Rejoiced and happy, she sees Escamillo off to the fight and declares her love, wishing him victory. The doors of the circus close, and Carmen is left alone in the square.

José enters. He begs Carmen to forget the past and demands that she return to him. But Carmen is unwilling and unable to lie. ‘I was born free and free I will die,’ she flings the words at José and fearlessly meets her death.