CARMEN - THE GYPSY OF SEVILLE
The dusky, sensual character of Carmen forms a key part of the mythical, dramatic image of Seville which attracts hundreds of thousands visitors to the city every year.
In the classic tale of passion and betrayal, the gypsy woman of Bizet's opera is a cigarette girl who works at Seville's enormous tobacco factory, which still exists and is open to the public; the cigarette girls of Seville are depicted in Gonzalo Bilbao's famous painting Las Cigarreras.
Carmen the opera and film
Carmen is one of the world's beloved operas, with its vivid colours, dramatic characters, romantic setting, and instantly recognisable arias like "Habanera" and "Toreador". The tale of the Spanish gypsy girl from sensuous southern Spain has delighted audiences from Sydney to Shanghai since 1875.
A number of films have also been made, notably Carlos Saura's 1983 version, which blends a real-life story with the opera's plot and features major flamenco names such as Antonio Gades, Cristina Hoyos and Paco de Lucia; Vicente Aranda's 2003 version starring Paz Vega; as well as the American musical Carmen Jones (1954).
The plot of Carmen
In the tragic tale, based on French writer Prosper Merimee's novella, published in 1845, Carmen, the beautiful, passionate and fiercely independent gypsy, seduces a soldier called Don José, leading to his arrest and imprisonment. Carmen escapes to the Sierra, where she meets with her bandit friends, and is later joined by Jose.
Then she meets a matador Escamillo, who pursues her, and fights Jose for her. At first Carmen stays with Jose, but then she declares her love for Escamillo, and shortly afterwards she is stabbed by her jealous ex-lover Jose outside the bullring.
The Seville of Carmen
You can visit many of the actual locations mentioned in the opera - the tobacco factory, the Maestranza bullring, Puerta de Jerez, Callejon de Agua in Santa Cruz, Puente Isabel II and Plaza de Altozano in Triana.
Watch and listen to Carmen
Saura's Carmen trailer
Bizet's Carmen Suite No1 Les Toreadors (instrumental)
Carmen's Habanera, "Love is a rebellious bird" - Royal Opera House