Carmen Opera at Lyric Opera of Chicago | Carmen Tickets

Upcoming Dates


Carmen Opera at Lyric Opera of Chicago | Carmen Tickets



by Georges Bizet
Performed in French with projected English translations
Performance running time: 3 hours 15 minutes including 1 intermission

Carmen Opera Overview

Opera has plenty of femmes fatales, but there’s only one Carmen. Her allure proves spellbinding as she seduces a hapless corporal and then a dashing bullfighter. You’ll feel the heat as you’re captivated by Bizet’s bewitching melodies — the smoky Habanera, the playful Seguidilla, the provocative Gypsy Song. Every single melody in this ever-popular opera is a beloved hit, and each is brought to life by a cast of spectacular leading artists. Join us for this production — never before seen in Chicago — and find out why it’s the perfect work to see again and again, and the ideal opportunity to introduce new fans to the thrill of opera.

Coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera.

Exelon ITW

Photo: Lynn Lane/ Houston Grand Opera


Carmen Opera Resources


In Seville a corporal, Don José, is ordered to escort the gypsy Carmen to prison after she attacks another girl.  José, however, falls instantly in love with Carmen, lets her escape, and is himself sent to prison. Following his release he visits Carmen at a tavern, where she has just met the bullfighter Escamillo. After dueling with a superior officer, José is forced to desert the army. He joins Carmen and her smuggler friends in the mountains, where she quickly tires of him. Once his hometown sweetheart Micaëla arrives to bring him home to his dying mother, Carmen is free to accept the attentions of Escamillo. José later comes to the arena in Seville where Escamillo is about to fight a bull. Outside the arena José confronts Carmen.  He pleads with her and finally, overcome by jealousy, stabs her just as the crowd inside proclaims Escamillo’s victory.

Carmen Audio Clips

Audio Highlights

Georges Bizet

Recording by EMI – Bumbry, Vickers, Miljakovic, Hamari, cond. Frühbeck de Burgos. Courtesy Warner Classics.




"Flower Song"


Best of the Best

Bizet’s Carmen, with its gypsy heroine, blazing with allure and white-hot passion! She seduces a young corporal, Don José, who deserts the army for her only to have her discard him in favor of a sexy bullfighter.

Read More

Meet the Carmens at Lyric Opera

Meet the Carmens!

Chicago audiences are in for a sizzling treat this season: two spectacular, sultry Carmens will bring Bizet’s beloved role to life on the Lyric stage!

Read More

Meet the Carmens!

Meet the Don Josés to our Carmens!

It’s time to meet the two world-renowned tenors who will be vying for Carmen’s heart as Don José during Lyric’s new-to-Chicago production of the classic tale of seduction, love, and betrayal.

Read More
Carmen Backstage Pass

A Duet of Can't-Miss Productions: Carmen and Eugene Onegin

Two of opera’s biggest blockbusters opened at Lyric in February! With unforgettable tunes and dazzling choreography, Bizet’s Carmen is one of this winter’s hottest tickets. Eugene Onegin will capture your heart with an all-star cast and glorious music. Don’t take our word for it—here is a sampling of critical acclaim from around the city.

Read More
Carmen Backstage Pass

Backstage Pass: Carmen

Learn more about Carmen with in-depth insights into the opera, musical examples, and an inside glimpse into the production.

Read More
Musical excerpts for Carmen provided by through generous arrangement with Warner Classics, Official Education and Promotion Music Provider for Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Carmen Synopsis

Approximate Timings

ACT ONE 50 minutes

ACT TWO 35 minutes

Intermission 30 minutes

ACT THREE 35 minutes

ACT FOUR 20 minutes

Total 2 hours, 50 minutes


In a town square in Seville, Spain, soldiers guarding the cigarette factory idly watch the passersby. Micaëla, a young country girl, enters the square in search of one of the soldiers, Don José. Led by an officer, Moralès, the soldiers surround her and try to detain her, but Micaëla flees.

Afterwards, José’s military unit arrives. At noon, the young men of the town gather to watch the women as they come out of the cigarette factory on a break from work. One of the women, the gypsy Carmen, tells her friends that love is “a wild bird that cannot be imprisoned.” Before returning to work, she flirtatiously tosses a flower at Don José. Micaëla returns, this time with a letter from José’s mother. José resolves to honor his mother’s wishes by marrying Micaëla.

Suddenly, screams are heard from the factory: Carmen has been involved in a fight and has slashed another woman’s face. While Lieutenant Zuniga drafts the order for her imprisonment, she is put into José’s custody. Carmen persuades him to let her escape by promising a future rendezvous.


At Lillas Pastia’s inn, Carmen and two friends, Frasquita and Mercédès, sing of the gypsy life. Lieutenant Zuniga tells Carmen that José was thrown in prison for allowing her to escape, but that he has just been released. The bullfighter Escamillo arrives with his entourage and asks Carmen if she will ever love him. Dancaïre and Remendado, two revolutionaries, try to convince Carmen and her friends to accompany them on their next mission, but Carmen refuses, saying she is in love with José and is awaiting his return.

When José arrives, Carmen sings and dances for him, but a distant bugle sounds and he says he must return to the barracks immediately. She invites him to desert the army and join the revolutionaries, but he refuses, and Carmen mocks his cowardice. As he is leaving, José encounters Zuniga, who has come in hopes of seeing Carmen. The jealous José strikes his superior officer. Now an outlaw, he has no choice but to desert the army and join Carmen and her friends.


The revolutionaries are busy moving their shipment of rifles through the dangerous hillside. Carmen, now tired of José’s jealousy, reads her fortune in the playing cards. She draws the death card.

When the revolutionaries head down the mountain to bribe the customs officer, José is left as a lookout. On her way up the mountain to find José, Micaëla hears a rifle shot and takes cover. José has fired a warning shot at Escamillo, who has come in search of Carmen. Escamillo tells José he is in love with Carmen and they start to fight but are separated by the returning gang. Remendado then discovers Micaëla, who has come to beg José to return home to his dying mother. Carmen urges him to leave; José is convinced she wants to be rid of him in order to take up with Escamillo. José leaves with Micaëla, warning Carmen that he will come back.


An excited crowd gathers for the bullfight. Outside the ring, Frasquita and Mercédès pull Carmen aside and tell her to be careful because José has been seen in the crowd. Carmen, however, ignores their warnings and bravely remains for a final encounter. José pleads desperately with her to come back to him. As she tells him she can never love him again, the crowd is heard cheering Escamillo’s victory in the ring. Realizing that he can never possess Carmen, José stabs her to death.

Reprinted by permission of Houston Grand Opera.

Featured Media

Bizet's Carmen at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Carmen at Lyric Opera of Chicago

3 Things to Listen for with Sir Andrew Davis - CARMEN

3 Things to Listen for with Sir Andrew Davis - CARMEN

Rob Ashford on Carmen

Rob Ashford on Carmen

Carmen in Rehearsal

Carmen in Rehearsal

Rob Ashford Invites You to Carmen

Rob Ashford Invites You to Carmen

Carmen (Teaser)

Carmen (Teaser)