The first act.
Area in Seville between the barracks and the cigar factory. The soldiers, sitting by the guard, smoke and watch the passers-by. A young girl Mikaela appears; in embarrassment she looks at the soldiers and does not dare to come nearer. Brigadier Morales asks her what she needs. Mikaela replies that she is looking for Sergeant Jose. Learning that he is not here now, but that he will soon appear to change the guard, Mikaela escapes, promising the soldiers, who came to her, to return after the change. A march of approaching new guard is heard in the distance. A crowd of boys parody the marching of dragoons. A new guard passes through the bridge with Lieutenant Tsuniga and Sergeant Jose at the head. There is a change of guard. Changed dragoons, boys and spectators leave. The remaining soldiers hide in the guardhouse. Jose and Tsuniga stay on the square alone. The lieutenant asks Jose about factory girls. Jose says that they like to flirt with men, but that he himself does not pay attention to them. Tsuniga hints at Jose on his attitude towards Mikael, who was looking for him here. Jose admits that he really likes Michaela, his bride. A bell rings, announcing a break in the factory. Young men who care for outgoing workers gather in the square. Jose cleans the chain and, apparently, is not interested in what is happening around him. There is a beautiful gypsy girl Carmen. Street dandies are hovering around her, telling her the words of love. Carmen sings a song about freedom and power of love that does not obey any laws. Throughout the time of singing, Carmen throws expressive glances towards Jose, but he calmly continues to work. Carmen creeps up to him, tears off a flower from her breast and throws it in his face. Jose jumps up from the bench. The crowd laughs. At this time a new bell ring is being heard. Carmen and the rest of the workers run to the factory. Jose in embarrassment raises the flower and sniffs it. The beauty of Carmen and her daring trick hit him. Seeing Mikaela enter, Jose rushes to her. Mikaela gives him a letter from his mother and a purse with money. She shyly tells him that his mother asked her to give him kiss from her too, and kisses Jose on the forehead. Deeply touched by Mother's caring and Mikaela's tenderness, Jose says that this kiss, perhaps, was sent to him in time to protect him from evil spells. In turn, he passes a kiss and greetings to his mother through Mikaela and is about to read the letter, but Mikaela hurriedly says goodbye. Jose retains her, but she replies that for the sake of propriety, he must read the letter in private, and leaves, promising to come another time. After reading the letter, Jose says to himself that he will fulfill his mother's will and marry Mikael, whom he loves. He takes out the flower given to him by Carmen, and wants to throw it, but at this time there are noise and screams in the factory. Lieutenant Tsuniga and the soldiers are jumping out of the guardroom. The factory workers are called to the rescue and, surrounding the lieutenant, inform him that there was a fight between Carmen and another girl at the factory. Two soldiers withdrawnCarmen from the factory. It turns out that during the general landfill Carmen wounded one worker with a knife. Lieutenant Tsuniga interrogates her. Carmen, excited, stubbornly refuses to tell him what's happened. Unable to gain any information from her, the lieutenant tells Sergeant Jose to arrest her and bind her hands, and he himself leaves to write the order. Remaining alone with Jose, Carmen enters into a conversation with him and expresses confidence that Jose is in love with her. On the order of Jose to be silent, she defiantly looks at him and tells him that she drove away her lover three days ago, and offers Jose her free heart. She sings a cheerful song, in which invites Jose to go with her for the city to drink and dance in the tavern of her friend Lilas Pastia. Jose fights his feelings, but forbids her to sing. Carmen responds that he can not forbid her to dream and that she dreams of an officer. Jose is no longer able to restrain himself and admits to her in love. In a fit of tenderness, he weakens the ropes on her hands. Carmen triumphs over her victory. When the lieutenant enters with a written order to arrest, Carmen imperceptibly rubs into the group of factory workers who returned to the square, violently jolts Jose and runs away under the guise of a sympathetic crowd.
The second act.
Lilas Pastia tavern. Officers are sitting at the tables and drinking wine. Smugglers and gypsies dance. Lieutenant Tsuniga compliments Carmen, who does not listen to him. Dancing is getting lively. Carmen beats in a tambourine and joins the dancers. Finally, tired, she sits to the bench. The owner of the tavern asks the guests to finish the feast, as it's time to close. Visitors are going to leave. At this time, singing comes from outside. It turns out that this people are honored the bullfighter Escamillo, the hero of the circus of Grenada. Officers from the window invite him and his comrades to go to the tavern to drink for their success. Escamillo enters with the crowd. Pointing out that the toreador is friend and brother to the soldier, Escamillo describes the bullfight in the circus arena in his song, when a bullfighter faces death every moment; the eyes of all present in the circus are directed to the bullfighter, whose own life depends on his strength and agility. The song evokes general enthusiasm and sympathy for Carmen, and everyone welcomes the bullfighter. Carmen pours him wine. Escamillo tells her that he likes her very much. Carmen responds that his efforts are in vain, but to his question, whether it is possible to hope for her reciprocity, responds that she does not forbid waiting and hoping for him. Lieutenant Tsuniga promises Carmen to come to the tavern again. All visitors leave, only Carmen and the gypsies of Frascita and Mercedes stay. Then smugglers Dankairo and Remendado come to the tavern. They report that they have a case and that they need the help of women. Carmen refuses to participate, admitting that she is in love with the sergeant, with whom she wants to stay and whom she is waiting for now. In the distance, the sergeant's song is already heard: Jose goes to Carmen directly from the guardhouse, where he stayed for a month for unauthorized release Carmen from arrest. Smugglers persuade Carmen to invite the sergeant with them to their gang too. All but Carmen go out. Jose appears, and Carmen joyfully meets him. She tells him that there were officers in the tavern and that she danced. Jose is jealous of her. Carmen calms him down and starts dancing in front of him. Carmen plunges Jose into voluptuous torpor with her dance. The sounds of the trumpet playing the dawn are heard. Jose says Carmen that he needs to rush to the roll call. Carmen is indignant at the fact that he throws her, who was waiting for him so long, in order to return to the barracks. In a strong anger, she throws him his things and chases him away. Jose tries to convince her of his love, shows her the flower she threw to him, and says that all the time he did not part with him, that no matter how he struggled with his feelings, he could not abandon it. Then Carmen invites him to flee with her and join the smugglers. Jose is desperate, but the sense of duty takes precedence, and he runs to the door. At that moment, a knock sounds and lieutenant Tsuniga breaks into the door. When he sees the sergeant, he tells him to go out. Jose refuses to leave. Both strip the swords and rush at each other. Carmen is calling for help. Smugglers come in. Dankairo and Remendado rush to Tsuniga. By sending guns at him, they scoff at him. Jose, a powerless victim of passion, becomes a smuggler.
The third act.
Rocky terrain in desert. Dark night. Smugglers with bales of goods on their shoulders descend from the rocks and are resting. Jose looks thoughtfully into the distance. Carmen asks him what he is looking for. He replies that there, in the valley, lives his mother, who considers him as honest man. Carmen harshly suggests that he should go to his mother, since he does not like here. Jose is struck by her offer and in anger clutching at the knife. Carmen calmly replies that she is not afraid of death, departs from Jose and joins the gypsies. Jose leaves on the rocks. Frascita and Mercedes are engaged in fortune-telling on cards. Carmen watches them, then takes out a pack of cards and also wants to know about her own fate. Cards repeatedly predict her death. Dankairo and Remendado return from intelligence and report that, although the path is not completely free, they must try to pass. Jose is left to guard goods; the other smugglers leave. Jose is hiding behind a rock. On the path from the cliffs Michaela descends with the guide. She came here to save her fiancé Jose from the influence of the gypsy girl and tell him about his mother's grief. Seeing him on the rock, Mikaela calls him, but at this time Jose aims a gun at someone. A shot is heard. Mikaela runs away in fright at the rocks. On the opposite side Escamillo is shown, in which Jose fired, but did not hit. Escamillo does not hide from Jose that he came for Carmen, whom he loves. Unfamiliar with Jose, he tells him that Carmen no longer loves the dragoon who was in prison and became a deserter because of her. Jose calls him his name and requires payment on the knives. Both snatch knives and fight. Jose begins to gain the upper hand. At this moment Carmen and smugglers come running. Carmen grabs Jose's hand. Escamillo promises to settle with him at another convenient opportunity and, leaving, invites everyone in a few days to come to Seville to bullfight to see his success. "The one to whom I'm sweet," he adds, "I'll wait there." Jose tries to rush to the bullfighter, but he is held by two smugglers. Escamillo goes away. After his departure, Jose threatened Carmen, said that she would care that he was tired of suffering. Carmen shrugs and steps away from him. The gypsies are going their way. At this time, one of the smugglers notices the hidden behind the rock Mikaela and takes her from there. She rushes to the astonished Jose and tells him that a dejected mother is waiting for her son and begs him to return to her. Carmen advises him to return home, since he is a bad smuggler. Jose rebukes her of treason with Escamillo, but declares that he will not leave her, and only death will separate them. Michaela, seeing the uselessness of her entreaty, decides to tell him the whole truth about the fact that his mother is dying and would like to say goodbye to him before her death. These words make a stunning effect on Jose, and he leaves with Mikaela, threatening that he will meet Carmen again. In the distance one can hear the cheerful song of Escamillo. Jose stops in hesitation, but then, carried away by Mikaela, slowly moves away. Smugglers, taking the goods, are going on the road.
The fourth act.
Square in Seville in front of the circus. There is a jubilant crowd of people in the square on the occasion of the forthcoming bullfight. A group of dancers is formed in the party. There is a procession of bullfighters, alguaziel and picadores. The crowd exchanges remarks about each of them. Then Escamillo is shown, next to Carmen, smart and proud. The people greet him with noisy greetings. Escamillo says Carmen that if she loves him, she will be proud of his today's success. Carmen passionately responds to him that no one was as dear to her as he. Frascita approaches Carmen and quietly tells her that she would immediately leave here, as she is being watched by Jose in the crowd. Carmen responds that she is not afraid of him and will remain here. When everyone leaves for the circus, Carmen stays alone in the square. Jose comes to her. Carmen tells him that she was warned about him, that she had to beware of him. Jose replies that he came not to threaten, but only to ask her to return former love to him. He forgives her everything and is ready to follow her wherever she wants. With tears he begs her to return to him the happiness of that lovely days. Carmen boldly confesses to him that she has stopped loving him, that she loves freedom only. At this time from the circus there are noisy raptures at the address of Escamillo. Carmen and Jose listen. Carmen with a cheerful exclamation quickly goes to the entrance to the circus. Jose blocks her way, swearing that he will not let her go there to her lover. Carmen angrily responds that she loves Escamillo and that she will not renounce him even on pain of death. Jose moves from passionate entreaties to threats. But Carmen decisively declares to him that she will not follow him. In the secondary explosion of applause and shouting in the circus, she rushes to the entrance. Jose does not let her. Then Carmen in a rage takes off the ring, presented to her by Jose, and throws it at his feet. Jose snatches the knife and with a frenzied cry "So death to you!" strikes Carmen. At this moment the curtain above the entrance to the circus opens, and Esquamillo leaves, surrounded by a crowd. Jose says that he killed Carmen, and rushes to her body with the words: "Haven't I loved you, Carmen, darling?"