Though it is one of the world’s most popular operas, Georges Bizet’s Carmen wasn’t exactly a raging success during its initial run at Paris’ Opéra-Comique in 1875. Its fate did reverse, driven by the captivating story of a seductive gypsy and the soldier who goes mad for her, and by Bizet’s glorious music. Sadly, the composer was unable to savor his achievement: He died suddenly, after the opera’s 33rd performance.
Today, Carmen is regularly among the top 10 most-produced operas. It has been adapted and interpreted countless times, including director Otto Preminger’s 1954 movie Carmen Jones with Dorothy Dandridge (who became the first black actress nominated for an Oscar) and Harry Belafonte.