Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy after the novella of the same name by Prosper Mérimée
Reduced orchestral version by Gerardo Colla, stage rights CASA RICORDI S.R.L., Milan. represented by G. Ricordi & Co, Bühnen- und Musikverlag GmbH, Berlin.
In French with German subtitles
Tension is in the air when the freedom-loving Andalusian Carmen and dutiful Don José first meet. Carmen knows about her effect on men and manages in a short time to call into question Don José's life plan as Micaëla's future husband, including his military career. José helps Carmen escape prison after a knife fight and is demoted for it; he follows her band of smugglers but still loses her to successful bullfighter Escamillo. Trapped in his ideal of love, based on an aspiration to absoluteness, he knows only one way out and the tragedy unfolds.
Since the publication of Mérimée's novella Carmen, the main character with her erotic charisma, her unconditional desire for freedom and her courage has served in the history of reception above all as a projection screen for the desires and fears of others. But one can also read the figure of Carmen as the general and timeless principle of love, which cannot be held down, but can disappear as unexpectedly and suddenly as it comes. The opera tells the story of a man who cannot reconcile this principle with his world view, and ultimately becomes a murderer.
The material has been adapted many times, but none has had such lasting success as Georges Bizet's opera of the same name. He created a musical landscape that manifested the musical cliché of Spain with shimmering strings and clattering castanets. House director Jan Neumann, who has staged productions in Weimar including A Midsummer Night's Dream, William Tell and, most recently, Romeo and Juliet and is now devoting himself to an opera for the first time, tells Carmen as a universal and timeless story about love, longing, transience, and disappointment.