The four-act opera
by Georges Bizet
, who died young, during its first run in 1875. It was badly received at first, and he never knew what a spectacular
success it would be, with the the infectious
and erotic gypsy
rhythms of the habañera
(Carmen's song L'Amour est un oiseau rebelle
, "Love is a rebellious
bird") and the toreador
's song. Another popular number from it is the Chanson bohème
or Les tringles des sistres tintaient
Based on the 1845 novella by Prosper Mérimée, the opera had a libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy (nephew of Bizet's teacher and father-in-law Fromental Halévy). It premièred at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, and ran there for 37 performances, but Bizet died on 3 June, the night of either its 23rd or 31st performance, depending on which book I read, sorry. (Oxford says 23rd, Everyman 31st.)
It was performed in German in Vienna later in 1875, with alterations by Ernest Guiraud, using recitative in place of the original spoken dialogue parts. It was this version which became a success in London and New York in 1878.
Carmen tells of the tragic conflict between the soldier Don José and the bullfighter Escamillo for the affections of the beautiful gypsy Carmen, who works in a cigarette factory in Seville, around 1820. Don José flees his commanding officer and joins her and the smugglers in hiding in the mountains, but she taunts him with her increasing preference for Escamillo. The two men fight. At the end, after a bullfight, she spurns José, who stabs her.
More recently a ballet of it was created by Rodion Shchedrin.