Theatre: Carmen

Carmen, a classic opera dating back to 1875, tells the tragic story of a Love Triangle between a corporal, a bull fighter, and the mysterious, exotic, alluring, hedonistic, independent, flirtatious gypsy woman simply known as Carmen.


This opera provides examples of:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Carmen gets bored with the increasingly supplicating Don José and takes up with the flashy Escamillo instead.
    • Don Jose also fits this trope - behind his façade of propriety is a violent and dangerous individual. He is in the army when the opera begins, because he got into a fight (and probably killed the person who started it) over a game of tennis.
  • Badass Baritone: Escamillo, a classic example
    • Though not an evil one (he's only as violent as his job requires).
  • Beastly Bloodsports
  • Betty and Veronica: Micaela and Carmen for Don José
    • Male version: Don José and Escamillo for Carmen
  • Blowing Smoke Rings: The girls from the cigarette factory sing about how they like to watch the soldiers do this.
  • Bootstrapped Theme: The snippet of the "Toreador" song is currently used as the AT&T commercial jingle. Skip to the last 3 seconds of the commercial.
  • The Cast Showoff: Whoever plays Carmen must be a great singer and a good dancer.
    • Any guy who plays Escamillo must be a prize show-off: let Sam Ramey show you how it is done.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Don José
  • Dance of Romance: Carmen dances for Don José when they are reunited in act II.
  • Dark Reprise: Echoes of "The Toreador" are played in a darker tone while Don José kills Carmen.
  • Destructive Romance: For both main characters, but especially Don José
    • Hard to see how it could have worked out worse for Carmen, mind...
  • Downer Ending
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Don José abandons every principle he has to be with Carmen, and then turns into a murderous Crazy Jealous Guy when she leaves him. But he still finds time to visit his dying mother one last time.
  • Femme Fatale: Carmen
  • Foreshadowing
    • In Carmen's introduction in Habanera, she outright states than anyone she loves should beware. Any man she professes to love ends up having a rough time of it.
    • At the beginning of Act III, Don José laments about his mother. Carmen tells him he should leave and go be with her if that's all he can think of. When he lambasts her for suggesting they part, demanding she never say it again, her retort is a biting, or what? Perhaps you'll kill me?
  • Gold Digger: Mercédès, during the fortune-telling number, sees herself becoming the wife of a wealthy but senile man — and then, as his widow, inheriting magnificently.
  • Green-Eyed Monster
  • Hat Damage: Don José, guarding the gypsy camp, aims his rifle at the approaching Escamillo and fires. The shot apparently passes through Escamillo's hat, which he carries in his hand as he enters.
  • Hot Gypsy Woman: Carmen
  • "I Am" Song: Votre toast (Toreador's Song); possibly L'amour est un oiseau rebelle (Habanera).
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: The Seguidilla. After being arrested, Carmen convinces José to let her go by singing a song that can be summed up as "I'm available, let's meet at an inn later tonight."
  • If I Can't Have You
  • Incoming Ham: Hoo boy. Escamillo's arrival in Act II starts with a chorus singing his praises off-stage, then he comes in to a chorus singing his praise onstage, and then HE starts singing about how awesome he is.
  • Large Ham
  • Loved I Not Honor More: Don José tries to do this in Act II, resolving to leave the titular gypsy rather than desert the army as she demands. Unfortunately, just as he's about to walk out, his commander Lt. Zuniga walks in to have his own way with Carmen - José attacks him, leaving himself with no choice but to run away with Carmen after all.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Don José starts out committed to his duty, thinking of his mother and professing that he will marry the sweet, dutiful Micaela. Once he falls for Carmen, he starts running off the rails pretty quickly.
  • Love Triangle: Micaela/José/Carmen and José/Carmen/Escamillo
  • The Male Ingenue Must Be A Tenor Though Jose is more for a loud, 'heavy' tenor voice and thus not really boyish.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Carmen is a deconstruction: she's a gypsy woman who seduces and enchants Don José with her free-spirited nature, but quickly tires of him as he proclaims his everlasting love for her. Turns out she's not so much for the forever love, and she leaves him for someone much more exciting. As a result, he kills her out of jealousy at the end of the opera.
  • Mood Dissonance: The final scene has Don José threatening to kill Carmen unless she leaves her lover for him while the outcome of the bullfight is greeted with fanfares and cheers.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Don José tries to kill Escamillo but doesn't succeed.
  • Outlaw Couple: Carmen and Don José eventually became this, but it doesn't last.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Carmen is one of the most popular and well-known operas.
  • Rated M for Manly: See Badass Baritone
  • Setting Introduction Song: In Act I, "Sur la place" is the soldiers singing about watching the people of Seville; and in Act III, "Écoute, Écoute, compagnons" is the smugglers singing about the mountains.
  • Sleeper Hit: * Nowadays it's recognised as one of the all-time great operas, butCarmen famously opened to great indifference in 1875, with the promoter struggling even to give away tickets. Bizet died without seeing the success it would become.
  • Smoking Is Glamorous: The song La cloche a sonné. The men and soldiers wait outside the cigarette factory, waiting for the girls to go on break. They all sing about the smoke, comparing it to love in the air.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Don José, by the end.
  • Romani: Carmen
  • Shout-Out: Escamillo might have been named after a famous female torero Nicolasa Escamilla, nicknamed La Pajuelera (Goya has made a famous picture of her).
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome: Escamillo
  • Tarot Troubles: Carmen, Frasquita and Mercedes read cards in Act III. Frasquita and Mercedes, being secondary characters, get romance and wealth, Carmen gets death.
  • Toros y Flamenco
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The original novel by Prosper Mérimée, anyway. The original Carmen may have been a Roma and worked for a while a cigarella... but she was also an influential campaigner for the rights of working women, and not a known criminal (it was actually her soldier-boyfriend- who may or may not have met her when his detachment were making an attack on a Romany camp- who went to prison, after killing a man in a fight over Carmen). Unfortunately the story of her death (well, her new man was a picador, not a toreador, but apart from that...) was true, and Merimee Flanderized the rest of the couple's life from that.
  • With Catlike Tread: "Écoute, écoute, compagnon" is a very loud song about how sneaky you have to be to smuggle cigarettes.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Carmen's reaction to the cards.