Georges Bizet’s CARMEN was a deliberate and direct affront to the Romantic operatic tradition. The fiercely independent spirit of the eponymous heroine was the polar opposite of the passive suffering of the female characters that had populated the opera stage up to that point. Yet CARMEN is anti-Romantic in a larger sense: Bizet’s opera presents a world in which love as a feeling between two people is out of place and has long been supplanted by sex and violence. Carmen and Escamillo, the torero, are emblematic of this new society, where survival of the fittest is the only law that counts, a world where Don José, with his bourgeois ideal of love, remains an oddity, doomed to fail. With his clear-eyed view of the bleakness of the human condition Bizet lines up with novelist Emile Zola. In a rejection of the stereotypical image peddled by many productions, Bizet’s Spain casts the ugliness of poverty in a true light.
Source © Deutsche Oper Berlin