Carmen, written by Bizet, is an opera created in the romantic era. This opera consists of four acts. The lyrics were written by Meilhac and Halevy, and the plot is based on a novel by Prosper Merimee. It premiered in Paris, 1875; the opera is set in Seville, Spain and stars five major characters. The lead character is Carmen, who is a seductive, gypsy girl. Her parts are sung in mezzo-soprano. Another major character is Don Jose, who’s a corporal officer who has an infatuation with Carmen. His parts are sung in tenor. A third one is Micaela, who was an old sweetheart of Don Jose, her parts are in soprano. Next, we have Escamillo, who is a bullfighter, and he wins Carmen’s heart, his parts are in Bass-Baritone. Last, we have Lieutenant Zuniga, who is Don Jose’s Superior Officer, and he also has an infatuation with Carmen. This opera is a good example of exoticism because its orchestration (use of triangles) and rhythmic vitality gives off the warmth and colour that one would feel in Spain. Also, this opera includes many characters (bullfighters, gypsies) that one might find in Spain.
Act one introduces the cigarette factory, and shows Don Jose and other guards marching, and the cigarette girls coming out at noon, with Carmen. When Carmen comes out, she sings her opening aria, “Habanera” in D minor. This aria is slow and graceful, in duple meter and is in verse and chorus form. Afterwards, it shows Carmen flirting with Don Jose (throws him a flower), and Micaela arrives with a letter from her mother, urging Don Jose to marry Micaela. Then, Zuniga orders Jose to capture Carmem because she attacked someone with a knife; however, Carmen uses her charm to convince Jose to let her go.
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Act two is set in a inn, where Carmen had agreed to meet Jose. There, she tries to convince him to join her and her band of gypsy smugglers, but he refuses at first. Then, Zuniga comes in and expresses his infatuation with Carmen, which leads to Jose attacking him. Since Jose can no longer return to the barracks, he joins the smugglers.
Act three is set in a wild mountain pass, where Carmen and Jose argues, and Carmen, sick of Jose, transfers her love to Escamillo, a bullfighter. When Carmen and her girlfriends were fortune-reading, Carmen draws the ace of spades, which symbolizes death. Micaela arrives to tell Jose that his mother is sick and Jose leaves.
Act Four is set outside a bullring, where Escamillo was bullfighting. Jose asks Carmen to return to him, but Carmen turns him down, leading Jose to stabbing and killing her.