“But it can’t last, dog and wolf don’t stay friends for long.”
— Prosper Merimee
While serving as guard at the cigar factory in Seville, don José Lizarrebengoa, a young Basque and corporal in the Almansa Cavalry Regiment, is approached by Carmen, a brazen Gypsy girl, as she returns to work in the factory. He is instantly smitten by her flirtations and strange and wild beauty.
A fight erupts between Carmen and another factory worker, and Carmen attacks the woman with her knife. Don José and two dragoons break up the brawl and arrest Carmen. She convinces don José to allow her to escape, as a fellow Basque. Fully knowing she is not Basque, he nevertheless allows her to flee because he has fallen in love with her.
Carmen and don José are soon reunited, and she agrees to become his mistress. After some time together, Carmen begins to lose interest. However, she has prophesied that they would be together in the end and that don José will kill her.
Carmen soon becomes interested in Lucas, a matador, and begins to frequent the bullfights. They become lovers and, in doing so, inspire rage and jealousy in don José. Don José confronts Carmen, and she outright refuses his love. In a state of rage, don José stabs Carmen to death.
Kirk Peterson’s Carmen was first premiered by Cincinnati Ballet in 1998.