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? 

With the support of:

Logo Fundación Mutua Madrileña





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 3h

Artistic profile

Stage director
Calixto Bieito
This version
Albert Estany
Set design
Alfons Flores
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


4, 8, 10, 13, 15 and 17 January
3, 7, 9, 12, 14 and 16 January
4, 8, 10, 13, 15 and 17 January
3, 7, 9, 12, 14 and 16 January
4, 8, 10, 13, 15 and 17 January
3, 7, 9, 12, 14 and 16 January
4, 8, 10, 13, 15 and 17 January
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

January 2024

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Liceu Under35

January 2024


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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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Free Catalunya Música live stream on Saturday, January 13 at 7pm (CET). Not available for streaming worldwide, due to copyright or other clearance issues.