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Clémentine Margaine and Varduhi Abrahamyan are Carmen in the mythical production by Bieito

“Jamais Carmen ne cédera: libre elle est née, et libre elle mourra.”
Carmen, Final Duet, Act III 

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Despite the failure of its premiere on 3 March 1875 at the Opéra-Comique, Georges Bizet would die three months later, never suspecting that his score would become one of the most beloved in the world.  

The literary model for the opera, a novella of the same name by Prosper Mérimée, depicts Carmen as a morally depraved person who unscrupulously exploits men for her own ends. Georges Bizet and his librettists, on the other hand, transformed the main character into an immortal persona because of her untamed freedom, marked by fatality: a fascinating cigarette-maker whom men find attractive precisely because she refuses to accept traditional norms. Her dazzling, non-conformist personality is reflected in the habanera, “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” (Love is a Rebellious Bird), a dance of Afro-American origin; powerful yet tender. 

A production in which Bieito made his operatic debut at the distant 1999 Peralada Festival has become mythical. In this piece, freedom is non-negotiable and absolute and Carmen preserves her deeply Iberian edges and fiery temperament. This rebel is a wholly contemporary creature. Temptress and indulgent, she lives by an urgent desire to live fully. 

It is a story full of misunderstandings: love is confused with desire, an affair with an exclusive relationship, affection with possession and violence with passion. But the highest price in this web of dysfunctional relationships is paid by Carmen, a woman who loves her independence. The heroine challenges Don José at the end of the opera; she lives intensely on a knife edge.  

Clémentine Margaine plays the lead, while Charles Castronovo reveals the wounds and desperate cracks of the soldier Don José. The figure of Micaëla, sung by Adriana González, who did not exist in the literary version, is the counter-figure of Carmen. Who better than Josep Pons, the theatre’s senior conductor and a specialist in French music, to unravel the eroticism of its unforgettable melodies? 



Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy based on Prosper Mérimée’s novel.
World premiere: 3/3/1875 at the Opéra-Comique in Paris
Barcelona premiere: 2/8/1881 at the Teatre Líric
Last Liceu performance: 2/5/2015
Total number of Liceu performances: 229  

Approximate running time
Actes i mitges parts
  • First part 1h 28min
  • Interval 30min
  • Second part 57min

Artistic profile

Stage director
Calixto Bieito
Set design
Alfons Flores
This version
Lucía Astigarraga
Costume design
Mercè Paloma
Alberto Rodríguez Vega (A.A.I.)
Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatro de la Fenice de Venècia, Teatro Massimo de Palermo and Teatro Regio de Torí
Stage director assistant
Emilio López Pena
Musical director assistant
Rodrigo de Vera
Musical assistants
Véronique Werklé, Astrid Steinschaden, David-Huy Nguyen-Phong and Jaume Tribó


Felipe Bou
Toni Marsol
Michael Spyres
4, 10, 13, 15 and 17 January
Leonardo Capalbo.
Leonardo Capalbo
3, 7, 9, 12, 14 and 16 January
Retrat Freddie De Tommaso
Freddie De Tommaso
8 January
Simón Orfila
4, 8, 10, 13, 15 and 17 January
Eric Greene.
Eric Greene
3, 7, 9, 12, 14 and 16 January
Jan Antem.
Jan Antem
Retrat Carlos Cosías.
Carlos Cosías
Retrat Abdel Aziz El Mountassir.
Abdel Aziz El Mountassir
Retrat Jasmine Habersham
Jasmine Habersham
Laura Vila
Clémentine Margaine (© Dario Acosta)
Clémentine Margaine
4, 8, 10, 13, 15 and 17 January
Rinat Shaham
3 (Under35), 7, 9, 12, 14 & 16 January
Adriana González
4, 8, 10, 13, 15 and 17 January
Retrat Jeanine de Bique.
Jeanine De Bique
3, 7, 9, 12, 14 and 16 January
Cor infantil - VEUS Amics de la Unió (Josep Vila i Jover, conductor)
Chorus of the Gran Teatre del Liceu (Pablo Assante, conductor)
Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu
Josep Pons

Cast Changes

Michael Spyres performs the role of Don José, replacing Charles Castronovo, who, due to scheduling conflicts, is ultimately unable to participate in this production.

Rinat Shaham performs the role of Carmen on January 3 (Under35 performance) and January 7 & 9 replacing Varduhi Abrahamyan due to indisposition.

Freddie De Tommaso performs the role of Don José on January 8, replacing Michael Spyres due to a cold.

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Liceu Under35


Here you can download the programme for free. Catalan or Spanish edition, only.

La prèvia

La prèvia és un podcast del Gran Teatre del Liceu, produït per La máquina de la luz i amb guió de Javier Blánquez. En aquest capítol parlem de Carmen de Bizet.

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In memoriam

The Gran Teatre del Liceu dedicates the performances of Bizet's opera Carmen to the memory of Luis López Lamadrid, who recently passed away. As the founder and artistic director of the Castell de Peralada Festival since early 2006, Luis led the commission of this unforgettable production of Carmen, directed by Calixto Bieito, 25 years ago. His contribution to culture, and specifically to the operatic genre, endures with this proposal that has been seen worldwide.


Liceu chronology

Consult the history of this title through the Annals of the Foundation of the Gran Teatre del Liceu: list of performances, casts, photographs, program booklets, curiosities...
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