Award-winning director Barrie Kosky provides a refreshing perspective on this well-known opera. He explores Carmen's ever-changing nature - marked by her series of contrasting costumes - and her vitality through dance. The pre-recorded voice of a narrator (perhaps Carmen herself) ensures that we experience the whole story from her perspective, and the production's unique performing edition (by Michael Rot) offers a chance for audience members to hear music Bizet omitted from the opera's first performances.
Carmen had only lukewarm success at its 1875 premiere - perhaps due to its unconventional subject - but soon became immensely popular, and has remained so. Its glorious score boasts a host of wonderful melodies, including Carmen's sensual Habanera and Seguidilla, Don Jos?'s tender Flower Aria and Escamillo's rousing Toreador's Song. There are also passionate duologues, above all the intense, final confrontation between Carmen and Don Jos?.
Carmen declares that any man she loves should beware. However, even she is unprepared for what will happen when she decides to seduce Don Jos?, an army corporal who initially appears uninterested in her charms.
Don Jos? soon abandons his sweetheart Mica?la and his army job for Carmen, and joins her and her smuggler friends in the mountains. But Carmen quickly wearies of Don Jos?'s possessiveness. When she turns her attentions to the dashing toreador Escamillo, Don Jos?'s jealousy erupts into violence.
BOOKING PERIOD: 30 November - 22 December 2018 and 22 June - 20 July 2019
PERFORMANCE TIMES: 7pm
RUNNING TIME: The performance lasts about 3 hours 20 minutes, including one interval
VENUE: Royal Opera House Bow St, London WC2E 9DD