The Australian Ballet

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Cast and Synopsis

Total running time 104 minutes
Interval 25 minutes

Content warning

Carmen contains mature adult themes including sexual content and depictions of violence, that some people may find disturbing.



A young boy innocently plays with a ball when he encounters a dark force, a vision of his future.


A tobacco factory, Seville, Spain

A group of young men gather outside the gates of a tobacco factory as Don José keeps guard. The female tobacco workers appear with the fiery Carmen among them. Confident, defiant and desired by men, Carmen has mastered the art of seduction. She tosses a flower to Don José, leaving him bewildered by her attention and he loses himself in a daydream. Suddenly noticing the young boy is watching him, Don José snaps back to reality and leaves. Back in the factory, tensions run high and an argument breaks out between Carmen and another woman. The commanding officer, Zúñiga, orders Don José to arrest Carmen. As he leads her away, Carmen seduces him, convincing him to set her free. When Don José’s betrayal is discovered, Zúñiga humiliates him, stripping him of his military rank.

The Toreador’s party

Don José watches as a party is held in honour of the Toreador, when Carmen appears. Flirtatious and playful, Carmen demonstrates her powers of seduction on Zúñiga and the Toreador. Noticing Don José, Carmen focuses the full power of her desire on him, leaving him dazed and in despair. Later, he encounters Carmen and Zúñiga flirting in the street. Jealous beyond reason, Don José shoots Zúñiga in front of Carmen and the young boy. Shocked and distraught by the violent act, Don José flees.


The mountains of Ronda

As Don José seeks shelter in the mountains, he tries to come to terms with his actions that have turned him into a wanted criminal. Wishing for Carmen to come to him, he plunges into an overwhelming state of guilt. When Carmen does appear, he cannot keep hold of her and, plagued by shadows, Don José hears rumours of her affair with the Toreador.

Don José is transported to a dream world, where he envisages a life with Carmen, the young boy and himself, all existing as a model family in perfect harmony.

Plaza de Toros

Returning to reality, Don José leaves the mountains to find Carmen, where he witnesses her becoming close with the Toreador. Overcome with jealousy, the shadows of Don José’s mind take over as he watches Carmen and the Toreador dance a pas de deux before the Toreador vanishes. Enraged, Don José stabs Carmen, killing her as the young boy looks on in horror.

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