The brave soldier Don José falls for the beautiful and exotic Carmen, who works in Seville’s infamous cigarette factory. Seduced by Carmen, Don José puts at risk his rank of corporal, deserts from the army and joins a gang of smugglers. But Carmen’s craving for freedom and her thirst for life and love are too much for the soldier from northern Spain. Soon Carmen abandons him, amusing herself with the acclaimed toreador Escamillo. Then, while Escamillo kills an animal in the bullring, José kills the woman he loves. Georges Bizet’s »Carmen«, which premiered in 1875, is one of the most popular of all operas. This is due in no small part to Bizet’s brilliant score: Carmen’s »Habanera« or the Toreador Song have greatly influenced our notion of Spanish music. For the Semperoper, director Axel Köhler has created an austere staging of »Carmen«, in which the drudgery of the cigarette workers is contrasted with the colourful world of bullfighting.