The Santa Fe Opera

Skip to main content Skip to search


July 1-August 27, 2022

The cards are not in her favor.

Carmen, a free-spirited, enticing performer and factory worker, loves freely and lives boldly. Her love for the handsome Don José quickly turns into deceit and jealously. It’s a recipe for disaster when she leaves him for the bull fighter, Escamillo.

Bizet’s most popular opera comes to the stage in a new production by Mariame Clément. Colorful sets and costumes by Julia Hansen bring this tragedy to life. What do the cards have in store for Carmen, Don José and Escamillo? Only time will tell what destiny has in store.

Las cartas no están a su favor.

Carmen, una artista tentadora de espíritu libre y trabajadora de fábrica, ama libremente y vive con valentía. Su amor por el guapo Don José se convierte rápidamente en engaño y celos. Es una receta para el desastre cuando lo deja por el torero Escamillo.

La ópera más popular de Bizet llega al escenario de la Santa Fe Opera en una nueva producción de Mariame Clément. Escenarios y vestuarios llenos de color por Julia Hansen dan vida a esta tragedia. ¿Qué tienen las cartas guardadas para Carmen, Don José y Escamillo? Solo el tiempo dirá lo que les guarda el destino.

Music By
Georges Bizet
Libretto By
Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Sung In
Instant Translation Screen
English and Spanish
Production Support Generously Provided By
Robert L. Turner
Additional artistic support provided by
Miranda & David Lind
The performances of Isabel Leonard are supported by
Susan Esco Chandler & Alfred D. Chandler
The engagement of Mariame Clément is supported by
The Marineau Family Foundation
Production Illustration By
Benedetto Cristofani


  • Act I

    A square in Seville. Soldiers pass, pretty girls pass. A blonde in a blue dress asks for Corporal José. The soldiers invite her to pass the time until he returns, but she promises rather to return for the changing of the guard.

    The whistle blows at the cigarette factory. Carmen, a Romani girl, lingers on the way into work, unfurling her smoky charms for a crowd of admirers in a habanera about the fickleness of love. José pays her no mind. She pitches a red cassia flower at him. He picks it up, and hides it in his shirt when Micaëla enters to tell him of life at home and to give him the letter and the money his mother has sent. He pledges Micaëla his love and faith.

    Screams are heard from the factory. Carmen has knifed another cigarette girl. Since she won’t answer Lieutenant Zuniga’s questions about the fight, José has no choice but to arrest her. She doesn’t seem to mind. Soon he has helped her escape. He is arrested.

  • Act II

    Lilas Pastia’s club. Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercedes are singing and dancing at the tavern. The famous bullfighter Escamillo enters and raises a toast to the assembled company. Carmen is impressed, but she tells the toreador she’s seeing someone. When he leaves, a crowd follows him. The hour grows late and Pastia closes the tavern, leaving Dancaïro and Remendado to explain their new business scheme to the women. Frasquita and Mercedes are willing to start off at once, but Carmen insists on waiting for José, who is to have been released today. They suggest converting him to their band.

    José comes in and Carmen makes him jealous by telling him she’s been obliged to dance for Zuniga and the other officers. She begins to dance for him, but soon he hears the bugle call to return to his barracks. She taunts him for yielding to duty and not to love. As proof of his passion he pulls out the flower she threw at him. But if he really loved her, she says, he’d desert the army and go with her and her friends. Zuniga enters in search of Carmen and jealous José fights him. Carmen’s cry brings the band running back. They disarm the men, Zuniga leaves, and now José has no choice but to head for the mountains.

  • Act III

    A rocky pass in the mountains. The smugglers relish the perils of their assignment. José misses his mother, his home and his honest reputation, and Carmen dares him to go back. He threatens her: he’ll never leave. She says she is in the hands of Fate. The other girls decide to play cards to tell their fortunes. Each time Carmen shuffles and deals, she sees the Nine of Spades: Death. In the hands of Fate.

    Dancaïro enters to call them to their posts to carry the next shipment. A guide enters the pass unseen, leading Micaëla to where she might find José. She prays for the strength to reclaim her sweetheart from this other woman’s clutches. Now Escamillo enters in search of Carmen, and José challenges him to fight. Just as Escamillo’s knife snaps, Carmen steps in to separate the rivals. Escamillo invites everyone to his next fight in Seville. Then Remendado and Dancaïro find Micaëla hiding. She is overjoyed to see José, and she begs him to come home. Carmen seconds the advice. He says he’d rather die than leave her — but when Micaëla reveals that his mother is dying, he leads her away. Escamillo’s voice is heard in the distance.

  • Act IV

    The arena in Seville. The crowds celebrate as the festival procession approaches the bullring. Escamillo enters with Carmen on his arm. Frasquita warns Carmen that José is nearby. Carmen waits calmly for him. José pleads with her to leave the bullfighter and start a new life together. She knows her hour has come, she says, yet she won’t go with him. He begs her not to go. She says she doesn’t love him. He bars her way. She throws her ring at him. He stabs her. She falls. The crowd pours out of the arena. José presents himself to be taken into custody.