For a synopsis of Carmen

I don't know why I was looking forward so much to the opera season starting. 'Carmen' isn't really one of my favorite operas. It is filled with people who just aren't very nice. Don Jose is a characterless jerk, Escamillo is an egotistical jerk, Carmen is a born troublemaker with terrorist tendencies who never misses an opportunity to indulge her natural proclivities, Zuniga is an arrogant brass-hat. The virtuous Michaela might be OK if she was a human being instead of a plot device. The only sympathetic dramatis personae were a troop of street urchins about Jasper's age who lined up next to the soldiers and marched in step with them, carefully out of range of a cuff on the ear.

Still, Escamillo's 'Toreador' theme has got to be one of the greatest leitmotivs of opera.

The squalid occurrence of Don Jose murdering his former lover is the stuff of the daily newspaper. Which made the opera rather shocking when first came out. But my sympathy is not that engaged because the individuals involved are such scum.

It is the genius of opera, that the combination of music and drama transcends either of its components. Listening to the music alone would have been boring. Watching the drama alone, without a great deal more development, would have been merely squalid. But put the two together and you've got something. One can even put up with the likes of Carmen.