I consider it a masterpiece in the fullest sense of the word: one of those rare compositions which seems to reflect most strongly in itself the musical tendencies of a whole generation.”

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Welcome to Manitoba Opera 4
A Short Overview of Opera 6
Production Information 7
Opera in a Trunk – Carmen 8
Georges Bizet: Did You Know? 45
Introducing Carmen 10
Synopsis of Carmen 10
About the Composer 12

  • Biography: Georges Bizet

  • The Operas of Bizet

  • Timeline of Bizet’s Life

  • The Life and Times of Georges Bizet

  • Bizet Posthumously

About the Dramatist 16

About the Librettist 17
Carmen Listening Guide 18
Historical Background 20
Carmen and Carmen Jones 22
Film Adaptations 23
Related Topics of Study 24

  • The Roma or Gypsies

  • A Timeline of the Roma or Gypsies in Europe

  • Tarot Cards: Diamonds! Spades! Death!

  • Flamenco

  • Bullfighting

  • Seville

  • The Royal Tobacco Factory

  • What was going on in Spain, France and Winnipeg?

  • Opera and Media Technology

The Operatic Voice & Professional Singing 34

  • Vocal Categories

Glossary 36

Audience Etiquette 39
What’s in a Review? Let’s Review 40
Student Activities 41

  • Optional Activity #1 - A Review

  • Optional Activity #2 - A 19th Century Newspaper Review

  • Optional Activity #3 – Create a Costume, Set, Poster, News Ad, or Press Release

  • Optional Activity #4 - Discussion Questions

  • Opera Comprehension Tests


We’re very pleased that you have decided to bring your students to Carmen. We appreciate both your interest in this wonderful art form and your willingness to expose students to opera and thank you for that.

This Study Guide has been created to assist you in preparing your students for their visit to the opera. It is our hope that you will be able to add this to your existing curriculum in order to expand your students’ understanding of opera, literature, history, and the fine arts. Materials in the Study Guide may be copied and distributed to students.
Some students may wish to go over the information at home if there is insufficient time to discuss in class. You can make the opera experience more meaningful and enjoyable by sharing with them knowledge and background on opera and Carmen before they attend Student Night.

Singing in Full Voice at the Dress Rehearsal (Student Night)
Please Note: The Dress Rehearsal is the last opportunity the singers will have on stage to work with the orchestra before Opening Night. Since vocal demands are so great on opera singers, some singers choose not to sing in full voice during the Dress Rehearsal in order to avoid unnecessary strain.

Carmen Study Guide compiled by Manitoba Opera from sources including Bellevue University, The Billboard Illustrated Encyclopedia of Opera, The Canadian Opera Company, Encyclopedia of Manitoba, Fort Worth Opera 2000 Study Guide, La Scena Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Manitoba Archives, Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Columbus Study Guide, Opera News, Operas Every Child Should Know, Opéra Lyra Ottawa Study Guide, Opera Today, Orchestra London Study Guide, San Diego Opera Study Guide, San Francisco Opera Guild Study Guide, schubincafe.com, A Season of Opera, Skeletons from the Opera Closet, Tulsa Opera Study Guide, University of Texas, Rimrock Study Guide, Virginia Opera Study Guide, Winnipeg Free Press, Wikipedia, www.musicwithease.com, and www.spain-info.com.

About Manitoba Opera
Founded in 1969 by a passionate group of Winnipeg opera lovers, Manitoba Opera is Manitoba’s only fulltime professional opera company. The company attracts great international artists, highlights the best local talent and is supported by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under the direction of internationally renowned conductors. Manitoba Opera celebrated its 35th Season in 2007/08 by presenting the world premiere of an opera commissioned by the company, Transit of Venus.

The Principals
The people who have the major roles in an opera are called the principals and are singers who work professionally. Principals usually arrive about three weeks before the first performance. It is generally expected that they arrive with all of their music learned and memorized and have a good sense of their character in the opera. In rehearsal each day, they work with the director who helps them block each of the scenes. The director works with the principals on understanding their characters so that they are convincing in their acting, as well as their singing. For the first

two weeks they are accompanied by a rehearsal pianist. A week before the show opens they move into the Concert Hall and begin work rehearsing on stage with the orchestra in the pit.

The Chorus

The Manitoba Opera Chorus, under the direction of Chorus Master, Tadeusz Biernacki, is hailed for their excellent singing and acting abilities. The chorus boasts a core of skilled singers who give generously of their time and talents. Some are voice majors at university, a few are singing teachers but many work in jobs that aren’t music related. By the time you visit the Centennial Concert Hall to see Carmen, the chorus of Manitoba Opera will have been busy at work for several months.

The Staff

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