Carmen: Story of Don Jose

Carmen is a beloved opera known worldwide for its music, its singing, and plot.


The most recent rendition featured Anita Rachvelishvili as the new Carmen.  Her singing was spot on.  From her mezzo-soprano voice, one can tell that she was someone with the ability of persuasion.


But Anita didn’t have the physical attractiveness of Carmen.  We have the perception of Carmen as a sexy and promiscuous young female.  Maybe that is society’s fault for setting these standards and also it is very rare for thin girls to be opera singers.



Starring as Don Jose was Yonghoon Lee.  Some have called Carmen a tragedy, not because of Carmen’s fate, but because of Don Jose’s fall from grace.  In the beginning of the opera, Don Jose is a successful military corporal with Micaela (Kate Royal) as his fiancé.  As Carmen starts seducing him, Don Jose begins to tumble.  Don Jose always had agency.  He had the freedom to act on his own will.  At times, Don Jose could’ve left Carmen and went back to his mom and fiancé.  Instead, he decided on his free will to stay.  Carmen’s seducing did play a role, but it was up to him to make a decision.


When the audience first meets Micaela, she is presented as the “good girl”.  She goes to church, she visits her fiancé’s mom, and is innocent.  This is complete opposite to Carmen who uses fortune cards, gets into fights, and is sinful.  This  “good girl” reveals her power in Act III.  She was the only reason Don Jose decided to turn back and go him to his mother.  It is true that her and Carmen are complete opposites.  Carmen is now repelling Don Jose, while Micaela is attracting to Don Jose.


In this production, the props themselves represented something greater.  The first was during the climax. When Don Jose decides to join Carmen, he takes off his military jacket to put on a different jacket that resembles that of a smuggler.  The jacket is used to portray the identity of a person.  When Don Jose took off his military jacket, he finally renounced his past.  Before that, he was attracted to Carmen, but had agency.  Now, with a new jacket, Don Jose is a new person who has given into his impulses and there is no turning back for him.



Another symbol were the lights themselves.  Before every two acts, a dance ballet is performed.  In the first one, a ballet is performed under red light.  The color red has a connotation with love, blood, and passion.  This was apparent with the first two acts where Carmen starts seducing Don Jose and Don Jose proclaiming his love toward Carmen.  Before Act III, instead of the red light, there was a blue light.  The color blue represents that of cooling, sadness, and calmness.  This was shown in the last two acts where Carmen rejects Don Jose’s love.


The music was amazing.  The orchestra did an amazing job to make the audience to feel that they were in Seville, Spain.  There were no synchronization errors, but I believe that it was wrong for the music to stop playing before Carmen dies. With no music, the death seemed melodramatic.  The music would’ve complemented the death scene by making it something that the entire audience has been waiting to see.

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