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Occhiata is thrilled to bring Georges Bizet's Carmen to schools for its 2014 Fall Program. This page includes resources for students, teachers, parents and anyone interested in the:
"Enchanting World," of Carmen...

 
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Synopsis in English


Sinopsis en Español

 

Print version - English/Spanish

Read a summary of the opera's story. Synopsis is provided in English and Spanish.

 


In-School Presentation

 

 

We believe in making the arts accessible and engaging. Its more than just opera. Check out our dynamic interactive presentations. This is what we to draw students into a whole new world of music, story, and reflection. 

 

Libretto


That's opera talk for the script. All of the dialogue that is sung and the stage directions. Very cool be sure to check it out.
 

Music Videos

We know you will agree that the music of the opera is beautiful. We've currated a collection of videos of some of the key musical moments in the opera. Be sure to at least reaquaint yourself with the story by reading the synposis. Better yet as you listen to the music pieces find the words in the libretto (the script) and see how the music and words work together.
 

Composer & History

Read about the opera's composer Georges Bizet and some history about the opera.

 

Occhiata's Videos

We produce two special videos that are part of our in-school presentation. Be sure to check them out.

 

Careers in the Performing Arts Explore career opportunities in opera. You'll be amazed at how many different kinds of jobs and skills are needed in the performing arts.

 

Big Thanks to this Year's Sponsors...

S.T.A.R. Foundation logo

 

SUE ANTLE

 

 

 

 

Arts Council of Monterey logo

Monterey County Fairground logo

 

Maestro Theodore Gargiulo
with Cast of Carmen  Circa 1951


Learn more about Maestro Gargiulo

 

Synopsis of Carmen

Act I 

Spain. In Seville by a cigarette factory, soldiers comment on the townspeople. Among them is Micaëla, a peasant girl, who asks for a corporal named Don José. Moralès, another corporal, tells her he will return with the changing of the guard. The relief guard, headed by Lieutenant Zuniga, soon arrives, and José learns from Moralès that Micaëla has been looking for him. When the factory bell rings, the men of Seville gather to watch the female workers—especially their favorite, the gypsy Carmen. She tells her admirers that love is free and obeys no rules. Only one man pays no attention to her: Don José. Carmen throws a flower at him, and the girls go back to work. José picks up the flower and hides it when Micaëla returns. She brings a letter from José’s mother, who lives in a village in the countryside. As he begins to read the letter, Micaëla leaves. José is about to throw away the flower when a fight erupts inside the factory between Carmen and another girl. Zuniga sends José to retrieve the gypsy. Carmen refuses to answer Zuniga’s questions, and José is ordered to take her to prison. Left alone with him, she entices José with suggestions of a rendezvous at Lillas Pastia’s tavern. Mesmerized, he agrees to let her get away. As they leave for prison, Carmen escapes. Don José is arrested.


Act II 
Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès entertain the guests at the tavern. Zuniga tells Carmen that José has just been released. The bullfighter Escamillo enters, boasting about the pleasures of his profession, and flirts with Carmen, who tells him that she is involved with someone else. After the tavern guests have left with Escamillo, the smugglers Dancaïre and Remendado explain their latest scheme to the women. Frasquita and Mercédès are willing to help, but Carmen refuses because she is in love. The smugglers withdraw as José approaches. Carmen arouses his jealousy by telling him how she danced for Zuniga. She dances for him now, but when a bugle call is heard he says he must return to the barracks. Carmen mocks him. To prove his love, José shows her the flower she threw at him and confesses how its scent made him not lose hope during the weeks in prison. She is unimpressed: if he really loved her, he would desert the army and join her in a life of freedom in the mountains. José refuses, and Carmen tells him to leave. Zuniga bursts in, and in a jealous rage José fights him. The smugglers return and disarm Zuniga. José now has no choice but to join them.


Act III 
Carmen and José quarrel in the smugglers’ mountain hideaway. She admits that her love is fading and advises him to return to live with his mother. When Frasquita and Mercédès turn the cards to tell their fortunes, they foresee love and riches for themselves, but Carmen’s cards spell death—for her and for José. Micaëla appears, frightened by the mountains and afraid to meet the woman who has turned José into a criminal. She hides when a shot rings out. José has fired at an intruder, who turns out to be Escamillo. He tells José that he has come to find Carmen, and the two men fight. The smugglers separate them, and Escamillo invites everyone, Carmen in particular, to his next bullfight. When he has left, Micaëla emerges and begs José to return home. He agrees when he learns that his mother is dying, but before he leaves he warns Carmen that they will meet again.


Act IV 
Back in Seville, the crowd cheers the bullfighters on their way to the arena. Carmen arrives on Escamillo’s arm, and Frasquita and Mercédès warn her that José is nearby. Unafraid, she waits outside the entrance as the crowds enter the arena. José appears and begs Carmen to forget the past and start a new life with him. She calmly tells him that their affair is over: she was born free and free she will die. The crowd is heard cheering Escamillo. José keeps trying to win Carmen back. She takes off his ring and throws it at his feet before heading for the arena. José stabs her to death.

Source: Metropolitan Opera website


 

 

Sinopsis en Español

 

ACTO I. Sevilla, hacia 1830. En una plaza, frente a una fábrica de tabaco, unos soldados observan a los transeúntes. Entre ellos se encuentra Micaëla, una campesina que busca a un oficial llamado Don José. Moralès, el cabo, le dice que llegará pronto, con el cambio de la guardia. Los soldados intentan flirtear con Micaëla, pero ella se va corriendo. Se aproxima el cambio de la guardia, dirigido por el teniente Zuniga, y José se entera por Moralès de que lo buscaba una muchacha. Cuando suena la campana de la fábrica, los hombres de Sevilla se reúnen para ver a las obreras volver a sus puestos de trabajo tras el almuerzo, sobre todo a la gitana Carmen, su favorita. Ella les dice a sus admiradores que el amor no respeta ninguna regla (“L’amour est un oiseau rebelle”). Solo hay un hombre que no le presta atención: Don José. Provocativa, Carmen le tira una flor y las chicas vuelven a la fábrica. 


José recoge la flor. Vuelve Micaëla con una carta, y un beso, de parte de la madre de José (Dúo: “Parle-moi de ma mère”). Cuando empieza a leer la carta, Micaëla lo deja solo. Él está a punto de tirar la flor cuando en el interior de la fábrica se produce una pelea entre Carmen y otra muchacha. Zuniga envía a José a buscar a la gitana. Carmen se niega a responder a las preguntas de Zuniga, y ordenan a José que la lleve a prisión. Una vez a solas con él, Carmen lo seduce con la idea de una cita en la taberna de Lillas Pastia (“Près des remparts de Séville”). Cautivado, José accede a dejarla escapar. Mientras van camino de la prisión, Carmen huye y Don José es arrestado. 


ACTO II. Carmen y sus amigas Frasquita y Mercédès entretienen a los huéspedes de la taberna de Lillas Pastia (“Les tringles des sistres tintaient”). Zuniga le dice a Carmen que José acaba de salir de la cárcel. Entra el torero Escamillo, quien se jacta de los placeres de su profesión, en concreto de los relacionados con las damas (“Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre”). Flirtea con Carmen, pero ella lo rechaza con coquetería. 


Cuando los huéspedes de la taberna se van con Escamillo, los contrabandistas Dancaïre y Remendado explican su último plan a las mujeres (Quinteto: “Nous avons en tête une affaire”). Frasquita y Mercédès están deseando ayudarles pero Carmen se niega porque está enamorada. Se escucha a José cantar en la distancia. Los contrabandistas se retiran. Carmen despierta los celos de José al mencionar que ha estado bailando con Zuniga. Él le declara su amor, pero cuando oye las cornetas le dice que tiene que volver al cuartel. Carmen se ríe de él, quejándose de que ya no la ama. Para demostrarle que está equivocada, le muestra la flor que ella le arrojó y le confiesa que fue su perfume lo que mantuvo vivo su amor las semanas que pasó en prisión (“La fleur que tu m’avais jetée”). Ella se muestra indiferente: si realmente la amara, desertaría y viviría libre con ella en las montañas. José se niega, y Carmen le dice que se vaya. Zuniga entra bruscamente. Presa de los celos, José desenvaina su espada. Vuelven los contrabandistas y desarman a Zuniga. José ahora no tiene otra elección que desertar y unirse a ellos. 


ACTO III. Los contrabandistas descansan en su escondite de las montañas. Carmen y José se pelean. Ella le dice que su amor se está extinguiendo y le aconseja que vuelva a vivir con su madre. Cuando las mujeres echan las cartas para adivinar su futuro, Frasquita y Mercédès ven amor y fortuna para ellas, pero las cartas de Carmen predicen muerte: para ella y para José (“En vain pour éviter les réponses amères”). Cuando los contrabandistas parten para la ciudad, aparece Micaëla asustada (“Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante”). Se oye una disparo y ella se esconde. José le ha disparado a un intruso, que resulta ser Escamillo. Él le dice a José que ha venido a buscar a Carmen y le habla de su anterior amante, un soldado que desertó del ejército para estar con ella. José se identifica y los dos hombres luchan. Cuando vuelven los contrabandistas, los separan. Escamillo invita a todo el mundo, especialmente a Carmen, a su próxima corrida en Sevilla. Se va Escamillo y aparece Micaëla. Ella le ruega a José que regrese a casa. Él solo accede cuando se entera de que su madre está muriendo. José le asegura a Carmen que volverán a encontrarse, y se va con Micaëla. 
 

ACTO IV. Sevilla. La multitud aclama a los toreros al entrar al ruedo. Carmen llega del brazo de Escamillo. Frasquita y Mercédès le avisan de que José se encuentra entre el público. Ella les dice que no tiene miedo, y espera a que entre un grupo en la plaza. Aparece José y le suplica que olvide el pasado y empiece una nueva vida junto a él, pero ella le dice tranquilamente que lo suyo ha terminado (Dúo: “C’est toi!—C’est moi!”), y se dirige hacia la entrada. Cuando José intentar cerrarle el paso, ella acaba perdiendo la paciencia y le tira el anillo que le había regalado. José la apuñala. Ella cae muerta y él se entrega a la multitud.

Source: Metropolitan Opera website
 

 

 

Occhiata's In-School Presentation
Take a peek at how we bring the arts alive. We are proud of how we engage the imaginations, hearts and minds of the students. We are always humbled and blown away by how students respond:

 

 

 

 

Carmen Libretto

Click on picture or this link to go to an external website to read the script of the opera.

Notice the economy of words - that is how just a few words are used to paint a vivid picture of these characters, their backgrounds and the action of the opera. 

 

Notice how because the lines of the play are being sung we can hear the emotions of several characters at once.

CLICK HERE FOR LIBRETTO

 


Music Videos of Carmen
 

Act 1: The Children's Chorus

 

Act 1: The Habenera (Carmen)


Act 1: Don Jose & Micalea Duet - Parle-moi de ma mere ("tell me about my mother)
This video includes Spanish sub-titles

 

Act 1: Seguidilla
(This is where Carmen enchants Don Jose)


 

Act 2: The Toreador Song (the bull fighter - Escamillo)

 

Act 2: The Flower (Don Jose)

 

Act 3: Micaela's Prayer


 

Act 4: The Finale (Don Jose and Carmen)


 

 

About the Composer & History of Carmen

Picture of Carmen Composer Georges Bizet

Carmen's Composer George Bizet


History: Bizet's Carmen Premieres on March 3rd, 1875 in Paris

(Originally posted to undercroftopera.wordpress.com on May 15, 2013)

 

In 1875, Georges Bizet’s Carmen first opened at the Paris Opéra-Comique. It was deemed to be too Wagnerian, too risqué, and generally not of the subject material appropriate for the venue or the times. It did terribly, and the legend has it that Bizet’s death three months later was a result of his being distraught over this terrible reception of his favorite work. Within a few months of his death, however, Carmen became an incredible success, and is now one of the most beloved operas of the world for its vivid musical characterization, brilliant orchestration, and dramatic use of the Spanish color.

 

Georges Bizet was born in Paris on October 25, 1838 to parents Aimée Delsarte and Adolphe Bizet as Alexandre César Léopold. By 1840, he was baptized with the name he used for the rest of his life, “Georges Bizet”. Both of his parents had musical inclination, his mother being an accomplished pianist, and his father took up teaching vocal students to supplement his hairdressing and wigmaking profession.

 

When Georges showed promise and aptitude for music at an early age, they sent his application to Paris’ Conservatoire, which normally did not take students younger than 10. He was accepted at 9, and started a fortnight before his 10th birthday. He attended the Conservatoire from 1848 to 1857, winning numerous prizes for his musicianship during his tenure.

 

In 1858, he continued his studies in attendance at the Villa Medici, which housed the French Académie in Rome. He used this time to travel in parts of Europe, particularly in Italy, in addition to his educational pursuits. In 1860, with 2 years left on his grant, he received word that his mother was gravely ill, so returned to Paris. He used what remained on his grant to continue his musical pursuits while in Paris. His mother passed away a year later in 1861.

 

During this tumultuous time, Georges Bizet attended the premiere of Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser which was extremely controversial for the Parisiennes, who were not a fan of Wagner or his works. Bizet let his favorable opinion of this opera be well known enough that his works were often later associated with the unfavorable press of Wagner.

 

At the time, Paris had two major metropolitan opera halls, the Opéra which housed more traditional operas, and the Opéra-Comique which housed a form of opera that incorporates spoken dialogue with the arias. Both of these houses rarely showed any favor on new and emerging talents, choosing more traditional operas over new operas most of the time. This had new talents like Bizet going to some of the less traditional houses, such as the Théatre Lyrique under the management of Léon Carvalho, for performing their works. Bizet did have a number of his works published at the Théatre Lyrique, but very few had public appeal or critical success. Those that had success, such as hisLa Jolie Fille de Perth, were overwhelmed by the financial distress of the Opéra Lyrique itself.

 

There was a disruption in artistic creativity for Bizet (among others) during the Franco-Prussian war during 1870-1871, as he joined the National Guard, and later had to flee Paris in the chaotic period after the Prussians left the city. Once he returned, he returned to music making now at the Vaudeville (where Carvalho was then managing), but his works continued to see very mixed successes; his operas tended to gain negative critiques while his symphonic works saw more positive results.

 

In 1872, Bizet was given a commission to write a three-act opera based on Prosper Mérimée’s short novel called Carmen. He began the music in 1873, but the management of the Opéra-Comique was worried that this story was too risqué for their wholesome venue, and the work was suspended. Bizet worked instead on a work he hoped to stage at Opéra, but this work was halted when the Opéra burned to the ground in October of 1873. Then in 1874, one of the members of the Opéra-Comique who opposed the content of Carmen resigned, paving the way for Bizet to return to this work. He did so, and Carmen was finished that summer.

 

Rehearsals for Carmen started in October of 1874, but the orchestra complained that the music was too unplayable, the chorus also found their music too difficult, and they were appalled that they were to act as individuals on stage, fighting and smoking, rather than just standing in a line. Further, the Opéra-Comique itself had issues with some content. Due to these conflicts, opening night was delayed until March 3, 1875. Coincidentally, this was the night that Bizet was announced to be appointed as a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.

 

Carmen opened to mixed criticism, ranging from poet Théodore de Banville’s praise for presenting a drama with real men and women, rather than the usual “puppets” found at the Opéra-Comique to critic Léon Escudier’s declaration of the music to be “dull and obscure”. It was just not conventional for the day or the usual content of the Opéra-Comique, there was still the onus of Wagner hanging over his works, that this was a true tragedy was difficult content for the audience, and moreover, many attendees were shocked that the heroine was so scandalous. The opera did moderately well, but it was not the raging success that Bizet had hoped for this work.

 

Three months to the day of the opening of Carmen, and also on the day of his wedding anniversary with Geneviève, Georges Bizet died (June 3, 1875.) Many attributed his sudden death to the tragic underachievement of Carmen, and to the overwork stress he had surrounding this failure. However, it is known that he had long-term problems with his throat developing sores or just being in pain, quite probably exacerbated by his heavy smoking. His last days saw two severe heart attacks, the latter being the fatal one. The physicians attributed his death to “a cardiac complication of acute articular rheumatism” or angina pectoris.

 

The night of his funeral saw a special performance of Carmen, this time to critical and popular acclaim. Carmen was also a success soon after Bizet’s death in Vienna, Brussels, London, and New York. Bizet’s pupil and later colleague Ernest Guiraud saw his friend and mentor’s vision fulfilled by turning the spoken dialogue into more formal recitatives to bring us the opera that we know today.

 

Many feel that had Bizet survived and lived on, he would have revolutionized the world of opera at the time, as Carmen predicted the “verismo” genre of opera. This genre of opera was not formally hailed for about a decade, but was a sort of anti-Romanticism form of opera that portrayed people in a more realistic light, and conveying story lines that were darker in nature, showing the daily struggles of the many.

 

Sources:

  • Georges Bizet, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Bizet
  • Milton Cross’ Complete Stories of the Great Operas, c. 1947, Doubleday & Company
  • The Definitive Kobbé’s Opera Book: Edited, Revised and Updated by The Earl of Harewood, c. 1987, G. P. Putnam’s Sons
  • The Metropolitan Opera Stories of the Great Operas, John W. Freeman, c. 1984, Metropolitan Opera Guild

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE COMPOSER GEORGES BIZET

 

 

Occhiata's Carmen Videos Used in Our In-School Presentations

We produce all of our own videos and interactive multimedia curriculum to bring opera live. here are two videos we wrote and produced this year - Enjoy!

 

VIDEO #1: Carmen Made Real

This video is used as part of Occhiata's live interactive, multimedia, interactive in-school presentations. We prepare kids to come and see the opera with us. Actor extraordinaire Alex Rogers primes kids to look into the souls of the three main characters to find parallels with their own lives.

 

Video #2: MOVIE TRAILER

And last but not least a movie style trailer...
 

 

 


Careers in the Performing Arts

 

We tend to think of "Stars" when we think of the arts. While you may be a rocket headed for Hollywood, Broadway or whereever God is directing your life....there are countless of well paying jobs and career choices in the arts. Click on the image below to go to a website that will help you explore some of these option.

 

Graphic of career pathways in the arts click to explore

CLICK HERE OR ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO EXPLORE

 

For another great website with detailed information on careers in the art: CLICKING HERE

 

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