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.