• Georges Bizet
  • March 2022
  • Dublin


Opera’s great, independent, sexual woman, the gypsy Carmen.

Her friends and enemies from a cigarette factory. Her lovers, high and low. A naive corporal and the good girl from home. A handsome bullfighter. Smugglers. Jealousy, and a fatal struggle. Carmen, the most popular French opera, with some of the most alluring arias ever, has it all. Bizet's Carmen sings out with irresistible, unforgettable musical panache.

Carmen In Focus, a free online introduction to the opera, will be presented on 28 February 2022. Booking details can be found here.

Sung in French with English surtitles

Approximate duration: 3 hrs 30 mins including 2 intervals


“a masterpiece in the full meaning of the word” - Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
“Her agile performance left nothing to be desired. She presented an exceptional theatrical interpretation of Carmen” - Maintal Tagesanzeiger on Paula Murrihy
“simply extraordinary in range, depth, and texture.” - The Arts Review on Celine Byrne

Co-production with Opera Philadelphia and Seattle Opera

In partnership with Bord Gáis Energy Theatre


Cast and Creative Team


Carmen Paula Murrihy
Don José Dinyar Vania
Micaëla Celine Byrne
Escamillo Milan Siljanov
Zuniga Alan Ewing
Moralès Seán Boylan
Frasquita Rachel Croash
Mercédès Niamh O'Sullivan
Dancaïre Brendan Collins
Remendado Eamonn Mulhall

Creative Team

Conductor Kenneth Montgomery
Director Paul Curran
Set & Costume Designer Gary McCann
Lighting Designer Paul Hackenmueller
Choreographer/Movement Director Muirne Bloomer
Chorus Director Elaine Kelly
Revival Director Sarah Baxter
Assistant Director Davey Kelleher
Répétiteur Richard McGrath
Studio Conductor Molly de Búrca
Irish National Opera Chorus
Irish National Opera Orchestra


Act I

It’s a blistering hot day in sunny Seville, Spain. A group of soldiers, hot and tired, hangs out watching the world go by. Micaëla, shy and pretty, comes looking for Corporal Don José. He’s not there and the soldiers flirt to try and get her to stay, but she leaves. Soon after, Don José arrives as the guards change shifts. A bell from the cigarette factory chimes, and the women come out for their smoke break. The men flirt with the factory girls, too. Carmen, a gypsy, is the last to come out and everyone is drawn to her, except Don José. She sees this as a challenge, sets her eyes on him, sings “Love is a rebellious bird that no one can tame,” and throws him a flower. Laughing, she and the other women return to the factory. He hides the flower in his uniform. Micaëla returns with a letter from Don José’s mother, who begs him to marry Micaëla. As he reads the letter to himself Micaëla leaves. Suddenly, horrible screams come from the factory. Carmen has gotten into a fight with another girl and slashed her face with a knife. Lieutenant Zuniga questions Carmen, but her only reply is the mocking response “tra-la-la.” Don José is ordered to guard Carmen while Zuniga gets a warrant for her arrest. Alone with Don José, Carmen seduces him into agreeing to help her escape. Zuniga returns with Carmen’s formal arrest orders. As she’s being led away to prison, she pushes Don José and escapes through the confused crowd.

Act II

A few months later, Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès are having late-night fun, singing and dancing for the soldiers in Lillas Pastia’s tavern. Carmen hears that Don José, who was sent to prison because of her escape, got out the day before. The famous bullfighter Escamillo arrives, and everyone is star struck. He sings about his adventures in the bullring and flirts with Carmen, but she’s not interested. The soldiers and Escamillo leave as the smugglers Dancaïre and Remendado join Carmen and her friends. They need to deliver their smuggled loot and want the three women to join them. Carmen says she can’t go because she’s in love. Nobody believes her as Don José’s voice is heard outside. They leave Carmen and Don José alone. He tells her how much he loves her. A trumpet signals that the soldiers must report back to the barracks. Don José says he must leave, but Carmen mocks his loyalty to the military. Don José proves his love by pulling out the flower she threw at him at their first meeting. That’s not enough for Carmen; she wants him to ditch the army and join her gypsy life. He tells her he could never do that. Zuniga shows up to see Carmen and orders Don José to leave. José refuses and, as the pair prepare to fight, the smugglers burst in and tie up Zuniga. Don José has no choice but to flee with the gypsies.


Late at night in a deserted place outside Seville, the smugglers carry their goods through the mountains. Carmen’s love for Don José is fading and the two bicker. She tells him to go home to his mother. Frasquita and Mercédès read their fortunes in cards. But when Carmen reads hers, she only sees her death and Don José’s. The smugglers head off to the city with the women on hand to distract any guards. Don José stays behind to watch the camp. Micaëla has found her way to the smugglers’ site. She plans to take Don José away from Carmen. Afraid, she hides after seeing Don José shoot his gun. The bullet has barely missed Escamillo who is there to see Carmen. The Toreador claims the two are in love. Don José challenges him to a duel, but the fight is cut short when the smugglers return. After Escamillo leaves, Remendado uncovers Micaëla in her hiding place. She tells Don José that his mother is dying. As Don José rushes off with Micaëla, Escamillo’s voice is heard in the distance.

Act IV

Outside the bullfighting ring in Seville, the street sellers are busy hawking their wares. Zuniga tells Frasquita that an order has been issued for Don José’s arrest, although he has yet to be found. The crowd cheers as Escamillo arrives, and he and Carmen express their love for each other. As the throng enters the arena, Frasquita warns Carmen that Don José is somewhere in the crowd. Carmen says she’s not afraid and stays behind to confront him. Disheveled and crazed, he comes out of the shadows and begs Carmen to start a new life with him. Carmen says everything is over between them. She tries to go into the arena but he blocks her way. Carmen says she’s in love with Escamillo. Enraged, Don José stabs her and she falls to the ground, dead. The crowd exits the arena with a victorious Escamillo to find Don José standing over Carmen’s lifeless body.

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