Don José is a young soldier in the army in Seville. He intends to marry Micaëla, a girl from his home village, but when he meets the sensual and high-spirited Carmen, he finds himself powerless to resist her.
Carmen was based on a popular novella of the same name by Prosper Mérimée, which enticed late 19th century French readers with exotic tales of Spain.
Its heady combination of passion, sensuality and violence initially proved too much for the stage and Georges Bizet’s opera was a critical failure on its premiere in 1875. Bizet died shortly after, never learning of the spectacular success Carmen would achieve: it has been staged over 500 times at Covent Garden alone.