Carmen, Opera by G. Bizet
When Georges Bizet debuted Carmen at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, the boldness of his artistic vision and the irresistible quality of his music made an immediate impact. Parisian high society and French opera critics were nothing short of shell-shocked. An opera focussed entirely on society’s underbelly of simple men, easy women, lowly lusts, and primal violence was not the kind of experience, to which they had been used. And yet, on the wings of Bizet’s truly remarkable score and with a little help from its controversial plot, Carmen eventually received the widespread recognition and lasting fame it deserved from the very start. At the regal ancient Arena di Verona, the intense dramatic charge of the piece seems even more incendiary. In combination with Carmen, your ticket includes a close encounter with the historic sights of Verona. On a mini-train tour, you can immerse yourself in the City of Love’s historical vistas and make your artistic experience truly complete.
The literary source for Carmen was the controversial novel of the same name by Prosper Mérimée. Librettists Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy transformed the book into an opera plot and made sure to keep all the scandalous elements intact. The action revolves around the anti-heroine Carmen, a Gypsy femme fatale whose life philosophy is to get the most out of every moment with little regard for social norms or people’s feelings. With her sizzling charms, she easily seduces Don José, a corporal who has just returned from military service. Throwing the Sevillian village’s scorn and his childhood sweetheart Micaëla’s heart to the wind, he falls head over heels in love with Carmen. True to her nature, however, she quickly grows bored with him and moves over to her next conquest, the macho bullfighter Escamillo. The scorned corporal’s heart will demand a bloody retribution.
To match the setting and plot of Carmen, Bizet dug deep into local Spanish musical tradition and included a number of traditional folk elements into his opera’s score. Carmen’s habanera and seguidilla as well as Escamillo’s ‘Toreador Song’ have since become iconic numbers with a life of their own in both classical and popular culture. Way ahead of its time, Bizet’s masterpiece has since become one of the most performed operas of all time, and its numerous breaks with 19th-century convention paved the way for new developments in the genre. In the historic setting of Arena di Verona, Carmen’s grandeur unfolds perfectly.
To complement the fantastic experience of George Bizet’s crown jewel opera, you can dive even deeper into the history of Verona. On the day of the performance or on the day before or after, you have a seat on the sightseeing train that takes you through the Old Town and over the Adige river bridge. On your route are numerous sights, from the Gavi Arch and the ancient Roman city gates to the majestic Cathedral of Verona and the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Lourdes, to the palaces Castelvecchio and Castel San Pietro. These and other remarkable monuments are on the 25-minute round trip’s itinerary. The ‘trenino’ leaves every 30 minutes from Piazza Brà, next to the Arena – hop on to make your visit to the City of Love complete!