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YMMV / Carmen

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  • Adaptation Displacement: Everyone knows the opera but few have read the novella by Prosper Mérimée the opera was based upon. The novella itself is quite different from the opera, narrated in flashback, and generally has weak characterization. While the author was quite well regarded in his age, the Carmen novella was seen as one of his minor works while Bizet and the librettists made the characters more complex, more developed and added in key supporting characters like Escamillo and Micaela who aren't in the story. So perhaps a Justified Trope.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
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    • Carmen can be either seen as a strong, independent and willed woman or a mindless hedonistic bimbo led by her hormones, depending on viewer.
    • Similarly, Don Jose is viewed as either a helpless victim of Love Makes You Evil, or a violent individual who was a Domestic Abuser in the first place.
  • Broken Base: The revised ending that a 2018 production at Florence's Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentinonote  introduces. Seeing that the opera hasn't had any major changes for centuries, it certainly drew a lot of buzz. Some praised the concept of it, given the campaign to protest violence against women (particularly women being killed by jealous ex-lovers, a major problem in Italy) was a large part in the revision. However, others felt like it just makes Carmen a huge Karma Houdini; despite the tragedy of the ending, Carmen was still largely a manipulative and toxic person for Don Jose to be around, and to see her not only shoot Don Jose herself, but walk away from the story largely unscathed seems to ignore the consequences of her actions.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Don José is tragic, yes, but he's still responsible for his own actions and becomes a villain of his own accord due to jealousy and possessiveness. This doesn't stop some viewers from blaming Carmen for everything he does and treating him like a hapless victim rather than his own person. Cristiano Chariot, who oversaw the 2018 Florence production, noted that some audiences applauded after the Downer Ending, which influenced his own take on it.
    • Arguably, Carmen herself fits this trope as well, especially in the Chiarot production wherein she is depicted as a victim of domestic abuse who kills Don Jose in self-defense.
  • Ear Worm: "Toreador Song" and "Habanera" are both insanely memorable. They are two of the most overused, parodied opera songs in popular consciousness for a reason.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: The ending of the 2018 Florence production where Carmen stands up to her "abusive" ex-boyfriend Don Jose and kills him instead of him killing her. See Broken Base above.
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  • Ron the Death Eater: The controversial 2018 Florence production seems to Flanderize Don José on the basis of the opera's grim finale alone, depicting him as a domestic abuser from the beginning. Never mind that Don José was actually a Nice Guy at the start of the opera, and that it was his obsession with Carmen that was responsible for his Face–Heel Turn.
  • Signature Song: "Habanera" and "Toreador Song"
  • Song Association: While "Votre Toast" is well-known and oft-parodied, a lot of people circa 2014 know it as "the song where Freddy stares at you before he kills you."
  • Values Dissonance: Carmen's portrayal as a Hot Gypsy Woman, Femme Fatale, and criminal draws on a lot of old racist stereotypes of Romani women, and at least a few modern productions try to make Carmen more sympathetic and less stereotypical. But at the time it was written, even depicting Roma in the opera was controversial.
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  • Vindicated by History: It was critically and publicly reviled upon its premiere, because of the questionable moral choices made by the main characters. Bizet died thinking it was a failure. It is now one of the most famous and most beloved operas of all time.
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