Carmen

Synopsis

 

Act 1

A square, in Seville. On the right, a door to the tobacco factory. At the back, a bridge. On the left, a guardhouse.

A group of soldiers relaxes in the square, waiting for the changing of the guard and commenting on the passers-by ("Sur la place, chacun passe"). Micaëla appears, seeking José. Moralès tells her that "José is not yet on duty" and invites her to wait with them. She declines, saying she will return later. José arrives with the new guard, which is greeted and imitated by a crowd of urchins ("Avec la garde montante").

As the factory bell rings, the cigarette girls emerge and exchange banter with young men in the crowd ("La cloche a sonné"). Carmen enters and sings her provocative habanera on the untameable nature of love ("L'amour est un oiseau rebelle"). The men plead with her to choose a lover, and after some teasing she throws a flower to Don José, who thus far has been ignoring her but is now annoyed by her insolence.

As the women go back to the factory, Micaëla returns and gives José a letter and a kiss from his mother ("Parle-moi de ma mère!"). He reads that his mother wants him to return home and marry Micaëla, who retreats in shy embarrassment on learning this. Just as José declares that he is ready to heed his mother's wishes, the women stream from the factory in great agitation. Zuniga, the officer of the guard, learns that Carmen has attacked a woman with a knife. When challenged, Carmen answers with mocking defiance ("Tra la la... Coupe-moi, brûle-moi"); Zuniga orders José to tie her hands while he prepares the prison warrant. Left alone with José, Carmen beguiles him with a seguidilla, in which she sings of a night of dancing and passion with her lover—whoever that may be—in Lillas Pastia's tavern. Confused yet mesmerised, José agrees to free her hands; as she is led away she pushes her escort to the ground and runs off laughing. José is arrested for dereliction of duty.

 

Act 2

Lillas Pastia's Inn

A month has passed. Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès are entertaining Zuniga and other officers ("Les tringles des sistres tintaient") in Pastia's inn. Carmen is delighted to learn of José's release from a month's detention. Outside, a chorus and procession announces the arrival of the toreador Escamillo ("Vivat, vivat le Toréro"). Invited inside, he introduces himself with the "Toreador Song" ("Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre") and sets his sights on Carmen, who brushes him aside. Lillas Pastia hustles the crowds and the soldiers away.

When only Carmen, Frasquita and Mercédès remain, the smugglers Dancaïre and Remendado arrive and reveal their plans to dispose of some recently acquired contraband ("Nous avons en tête une affaire"). Frasquita and Mercédès are keen to help them, but Carmen refuses, since she wishes to wait for José. After the smugglers leave, José arrives. Carmen treats him to a private exotic dance ("Je vais danser en votre honneur ... La la la"), but her song is joined by a distant bugle call from the barracks. When José says he must return to duty, she mocks him, and he answers by showing her the flower that she threw to him in the square ("La fleur que tu m'avais jetée"). Unconvinced, Carmen demands he shows his love by leaving with her. José refuses to desert, but as he prepares to depart, Zuniga enters looking for Carmen. He and José fight, and are separated by the returning smugglers, who restrain Zuniga. Having attacked a superior officer, José now has no choice but to join Carmen and the smugglers ("Suis-nous à travers la campagne").

 

Act 3

A wild spot in the mountains

Carmen and José enter with the smugglers and their booty ("Écoute, écoute, compagnons"); Carmen has now become bored with José and tells him scornfully that he should go back to his mother. Frasquita and Mercédès amuse themselves by reading their fortunes from the cards; Carmen joins them and finds that the cards are foretelling her death, and José's. The women depart to suborn the customs officers who are watching the locality. José is placed on guard duty.

Micaëla enters with a guide, seeking José and determined to rescue him from Carmen ("Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante"). On hearing a gunshot she hides in fear; it is José, who has fired at an intruder who proves to be Escamillo. José's pleasure at meeting the bullfighter turns to anger when Escamillo declares his infatuation with Carmen. The pair fight ("Je suis Escamillo, toréro de Grenade"), but are interrupted by the returning smugglers and girls ("Holà, holà José"). As Escamillo leaves he invites everyone to his next bullfight in Seville. Micaëla is discovered; at first, José will not leave with her despite Carmen's mockery, but he agrees to go when told that his mother is dying. As he departs, vowing he will return, Escamillo is heard in the distance, singing the toreador's song.

 

Act 4

A square in Seville. At the back, the walls of an ancient amphitheatre

Zuniga, Frasquita and Mercédès are among the crowd awaiting the arrival of the bullfighters ("Les voici ! Voici la quadrille!"). Escamillo enters with Carmen, and they express their mutual love ("Si tu m'aimes, Carmen"). As Escamillo goes into the arena, Frasquita warns Carmen that José is nearby, but Carmen is unafraid and willing to speak to him. Alone, she is confronted by the desperate José ("C'est toi ! C'est moi !"). While he pleads vainly for her to return to him, cheers are heard from the arena. As José makes his last entreaty, Carmen contemptuously throws down the ring he gave her and attempts to enter the arena. He then stabs her, and as Escamillo is acclaimed by the crowds, Carmen dies. José kneels and sings "Ah! Carmen! ma Carmen adorée!"; as the crowd exits the arena, José confesses to killing the woman he loved.

Program and cast

Creative Team


Valentina Peleggi - Conductor

Calixto Bieito - Director

Joan Anton Rechi - Associate Director

Jamie Manton - Revival Director

Alfons Flores - Set Designer

Mercè Paloma - Costume Designer

Bruno Poet - Lighting Designer

Christopher Cowell - Translator


Cast


Justina Gringytė - Carmen

Sean Panikkar - José

David Butt Philip - José
(Feb 25 & 27)

Ashley Riches - Escamillo

Nardus Williams - Micaëla

Keel Watson - Zuniga

Alex Otterburn - Moralès

Ellie Laugharne - Frasquita

Samantha Price - Mercédès

Matthew Durkan - Dancairo

Elgan Llŷr Thomas - Remendado

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London Coliseum

The home of ENO is the London Coliseum in the heart of London’s West End. Conveniently positioned in Theatreland, the theatre is near both Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square and benefits from the proximity of a number of tube stations and Charing Cross national rail station.
 

With the widest stage in London, it is a perfect venue for dance and performing arts companies. The glorious Edwardian architecture and interiors were magnificently restored in 2004, providing a beautiful auditorium and wonderful entertaining spaces throughout the building.  
 

 

HISTORY OF THE COLISEUM

 

The London Coliseum was designed by Frank Matcham for Sir Oswald Stoll with the ambition of being the largest and finest ‘People’s palace of entertainment’ of the age. 
 

Matcham wanted a Theatre of Variety – not a music hall but equally not highbrow entertainment. The resulting programme was a mix of music hall and variety theatre, with one act - a full scale revolving chariot race - requiring the stage to revolve. The theatre’s original slogan was PRO BONO PUBLICO (For the public good). It was opened in 1904 and the inaugural performance was a variety bill on 24 December that year.
 

With 2,359 seats it is the largest theatre in London. It underwent extensive renovations between 2000 and 2004 when an original staircase planned by Frank Matcham was finally put in to his specifications.The theatre changed its name from the London Coliseum to the Coliseum Theatre between 1931 and 1968. During the Second World War, the Coliseum served as a canteen for Air Raid Patrol workers, and Winston Churchill gave a speech from the stage. After 1945 it was mainly used for American musicals before becoming in 1961 a cinema for seven years.  In 1968 it reopened as The London Coliseum, home of Sadler’s Wells Opera. In 1974 Sadler’s Wells became English National Opera and the Company bought the freehold of the building for £12.8 million in 1992. The theatre underwent a complete and detailed restoration from 2000 which was supported by National Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, The National Lottery through Arts Council England, Vernon & Hazel Ellis and a number of generous trust and individual donors to whom we are extremely grateful.The auditorium and other public areas were returned to their original Edwardian decoration and new public spaces were created. The theatre re-opened in 2004.
 

The London Coliseum has the widest proscenium arch in London (55 feet wide and 34 feet high – the stage is 80 feet wide, with a throw of over 115 feet from the stage to the back of the balcony) and was one of the first theatres to have electric lighting. It was built with a revolving stage although this was rarely used which consisted of three concentric rings and was 75 feet cross in total and cost Stoll £70,000. A range of modern features included electric lifts for patrons, a roof garden and an Information Bureau in which physicians or others expecting urgent telephone calls or telegrams could leave their seat numbers and be immediately informed if required.

 

FINDING LONDON COLISEUM

 

Nearest Underground

Charing Cross - 0.2 miles 
Northern Line 
Leicester Square - 0.2 miles 
Northern & Piccadilly Lines 
Covent Garden - 0.3 miles 
Northern & Piccadilly Lines 
Embankment - 0.3 miles 
Bakerloo, Circle, District & Northern Lines
 

Nearest Overground

Charing Cross - 0.2 miles 
Waterloo - 0.8 miles
 

Nearest Buses

3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 53, 77a, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176

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