Carman never fails to conjure up visions of spectacular and exotic dancing in the minds of ballet lovers around the world no matter where she is exposed.

In a history that spans over 200 years, CARMAN was continually expanded, improved and held in repertory to examine, improve and further enhanced by choreographers who followed one another to date. Dazzling dancers, fiery and sizzling with exotic looks made CARMAN alive and alluring whenever she was boarded.

Originally, CARMEN was created as a ballet by Roland Petit by his company, ‘Les Ballets de Paris’ at Prince Theatre in London on February 21, 1949. This version was held in repertory of all ballet companies in France as well as around the world. It represented a striking mixture of classical ballet with Spanish style movement spiced up with freshly invented dramatic dance action.

The music was taken from an opera of the same name by Georges Bizet and over 5,000 performances were showcased around the world.

Yet, before Bizet, CARMAN was adopted to the stage by Marius Petipa. He titled his ballet as CARMAN ET SON TORERO around the time the story was published in 1845 and was before the Imperial Ballet days. However nothing was recorded positively until 1897.

Though critics objected to Petit’s departure from Bizet’s libretto, his CARMAN was well received by audiences and ran for four months in London followed by another five months in Paris and thereafter in the US.

Bolshoi Ballet’s performance of CARMAN was in 1965 and enthralled the Brits who responded with appreciation to the wonderful company for the lyrical, grand and monumental performance and heralded CARMAN as a landmark in ballet.

CARMAN also deviated from pure classics that Brits were used to seeing in its pure ethereal beauty whereas colour fusion in CARMAN amazed them. Its brusque flamenco steps and movements which is a mixture of Spanish and Mexican needed strong healthy dancers to execute the rhythmic movements.

Besides choreographers being fascinated by CARMAN, composers vied with each other for the score with Roland Petit leading the way.


No one sacrificed his energy as Georges Bizet to make CARMAN sizzle. The struggle to mount and the reaction of the first night audience of the opera may have disheartened Bizet even further. His music had to relate to a tale of passion and murder set against a background of gypsies and thieves with CARMAN herself running battles with the Opera management. It was not the type of puritanical Parisian audiences was used to and was a hopeless flop. He paid a handsome 25,000 francs for the score of the opera by his publishers and was made a Chevaliar of the Legion d’honneur on the eve of the premier of the opera and was right in his initial assessment but fate was unkind that he did not live long enough to see his masterpiece widely acclaimed. On the evening of the thirty-first performance of CARMAN, Bizet died of a heart attack by a throat infection caused probably by cancer from which he had suffered painfully for some time ending his young life at thirty six. Had Bizet lived a couple of months more, he would have been overjoyed about the success of CARMAN suite.

Composer Brahms said that he would go to the end of the world to embrace the composer, Bizet whose CARMAN was the story of a dark-eyed gypsy girl who seduced the Army Corporal, Don Jose, then rejects him in favour of the matador, Escamillo. This tragic episode in several scenes opens and closes with Don Jose facing the firing squad. He is about to be executed for the murder of his lover, CARMAN and in between, her story is presented with flashback events. 

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