Carmen





In four acts by GEORGE BIZET.





This opera is essentially Spanish. The music throughout has a southern

character and is passionate and original to a high degree.



Carmen, the heroine is a Spanish gipsy, fickle and wayward, but endowed

with all the wild graces of her nation. She is adored by her people,

and so it is not to be wondered at, that she has many of the stronger

sex at her feet. She is betrothed to Don Jose, a brigadier of the

Spanish army; of course he is one out of many; she soon grows tired of

him, and awakens his jealousy by a thousand caprices and cruelties.



Don Jose has another bride, sweet and lovely, Micaela, waiting for him

at home, but she is forgotten as soon as he sees the proud gipsy.



Micaela seeks him out, bringing to him the portrait and the benediction

of his mother, ay, even her kiss, which she gives him with blushes.

His tenderness is gone, however, so far as Micaela is concerned, as

soon as he casts one look into the lustrous eyes of Carmen. This

passionate creature has involved herself in a quarrel and wounded one

of her companions, a laborer in a cigarette manufactory. She is to be

taken to prison, but Don Jose lets her off, promising to meet her in

the evening at an inn kept by a man named Lillas Pastia, where they are

to dance the Seguedilla.



In the second act we find them there together, with the whole band of

gipsies. Don Jose, more and more infatuated by Carmen's charms, is

willing to join the vagabonds, who are at the same time smugglers. He

accompanies them in a dangerous enterprise of this kind, but no sooner

has he submitted to sacrifice love and honor for the gipsy, than she

begins to tire of his attentions. Jose has pangs of conscience, he

belongs to another sphere of society and his feelings are of a softer

kind than those of nature's unruly child. She transfers her affections

to a bull-fighter named Escamillo, another of her suitors, who returns

her love more passionately. A quarrel ensues between the two rivals.

Escamillo's knife breaks and he is about to be killed by Don Jose, when

Carmen intervenes, holding back his arm. Don Jose, seeing that she has

duped him, now becomes her deadly foe, filled with undying hatred and

longing for revenge.



Micaela, the tender-hearted maiden, who follows him everywhere like a

guardian-angel, reminds him of his lonely mother, everybody advises him

to let the fickle Carmen alone,--Carmen who never loved the same man

for more than six weeks. But in vain, till Micaela tells him of

the dying mother, asking incessantly for her son; then at last he

consents to go with her, but not without wild imprecations on his rival

and his faithless love.



In the fourth act we find ourselves in Madrid. There is to be a

bull-fight; Escamillo, its hero, has invited the whole company to be

present in the circus.



Don Jose appears there too, trying for the last time to regain his

bride. Carmen, though warned by a fellow gipsy, Frasquita, knows no

fear. She meets her old lover outside the arena, where he tries hard

to touch her heart. He kneels at her feet, vowing never to forsake her

and to be one of her own people, but Carmen, though wayward, is neither

a coward nor a liar, and boldly declares that her affections are given

to the bull-fighter, whose triumphs are borne to their ears on the

shouts of the multitude. Almost beside himself with love and rage Jose

seizes her hand and attempts to drag her away, but she escapes from

him, and throwing the ring, Jose's gift, at his feet, rushes to the

door of the arena.--He overtakes her however and just as the trumpets

announce Escamillo's victory, in a perfect fury of despair he stabs her

through the heart, and the victorious bull-fighter finds his beautiful

bride a corpse.





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