Centering on a few strong emotions – love, hate, desire, fate and death, the opera Carmen is an epic tale that revolves around the beautiful, luring Gypsy girl named Carmen, and Don José, a solider that is later madly in love with her. It was originally offered to Bizet in a form of a libretto from Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. The opera is generally considered to be Bizet’s most important work.

The setting of this lyric drama is Seville, where Carmen works in a small cigarette factory. Carmen enters in Act I of the opera, performing her famous aria to a habanera (an adorn dotted rhythm, a Cuban dance-song from Havana. ) rhythm. This important aria is considered to be Carmen’s warning towards love; “Love is a rebellious bird, that nobody can tame….” After she establishes her seductive character, she throws Don José a flower, and sets his fate.

Although the simple Don José intended to marry his childhood sweetheart Micaela, he could not control his strong desires for Carmen. He finally gives in and is lured into Carmen’s band of free willed, lawless smugglers. However, the bliss that José shared with Carmen was very short lived. Carmen’s infatuations transferred from José to the handsome bullfighter Escamillo. José is obsessively jealous, but at the same time, Micaela informs him that his mother is dying and he is to return to his home village.

When Don José returns to Carmen, he begs her to leave with him and states that they can start again. Unwilling to surrender her freedom, Carmen refuses. Unable to control his emotions, he stabs her. And ends the opera with a tragic ending. Love was indeed, as Carmen depicted through her aria, untamable. In this opera, Carmen and her lawless life are projected as a metaphor for Love; “Love is a Gypsy, it has never been subject to any law…”

Although the opera Carmen failed to conquer its first audience in 1875, its reputation grew steadily through Vienna, Brussels, London and New York; when Carmen returns to Paris in 1880, its potential was widely accepted, and its successful career followed. Today Carmen remains to be one of the most famous operas in the world.