April 21, 2018

Carmen (Escamillo)
Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale
Billings, MT

Written by French composer Georges Bizet, Carmen premiered at the Opèra-Comique on March 3, 1875. At first, it received critical reviews. It wasn’t until several performances ran outside of Paris, did it then begin to gain notoriety. After its return to Paris in 1883, Carmen became popular world-wide. Bizet passed away unexpectedly after the opera's 33rd performance, unaware that the work would achieve international acclaim within the following ten years. Carmen has since become one of the most popular and frequently performed operas in the classical repertoire.  The "Hananera" from Act I and the "Toreador Song" from Act II are among the best known of all operatic arias.

The opera is written in the genre of opéra comique with musical numbers separated by dialogue.  It is set in southern Spain and tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery gypsy, Carmen.  José abandons his childhood sweetheart, Micaëla, and deserts from his military duties, yet loses Carmen's love to the glamorous torero, Escamillo, after which José kills her in a jealous rage.  The depictions of proletarian life, immorality, and lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage, broke new ground in French opera and were highly controversial.

Alberta Bair Theater
Billings, MT