Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House


In the heat, dust and danger of the city, fiery Carmen sings her siren song. With each seductive note, the guileless Don José is drawn into her world: a world of smugglers in suits, a world outside society's bounds.

What kind of person chooses a love that they know will destroy them? What kind of person sees that destiny, and dances towards it, without fear?

"I've always been intrigued by the psychology of that choice," says John Bell, who follows up his phenomenal Tosca with a new production of Carmen in 2016. "What leads you to love the one person who is going to destroy you?"

Underneath the irresistible Spanish tunes is a gritty tale of power, corruption and destruction waiting to be told, Bell says.

Carmen is colourful, physical and entertaining, but it shouldn't get "too pretty", he adds. To succeed, it must have punch. Sex and sexual politics. Physicality and power.

This new take on Bizet's famous opera hones in on the relationships at its heart, on the wild love that promises freedom while binding the lovers in an unbreakable web of fate.

Andrea Molino conducts French star Clémentine Margaine and Australian favourite Milijana Nikolic as Carmen, with thrilling tenors Yonghoon Lee and Brandon Jovanovich as Don José.


The ultimate femme fatale is here to stamp her feet, toss her hair and dance. Will she love Don José? Maybe. Will you fall for her sultry Habanera? Definitely.

Cheese board

Head up the stairs at the Joan Sutherland Theatre to enjoy the pop-up bar with an unbeatable view of the harbour, exclusive to ticket holders. The bar opens 90 minutes before evening performances and an hour before matinees. See the menu.

Conductor Andrea Molino (until 13 July)
Brian Castles-Onion
Director John Bell
Set Designer Michael Scott-Mitchell
Costume Designer Teresa Negroponte
Lighting Designer Trent Suidgeest
Choreographer Kelley Abbey
Fight Choreographer Nigel Poulton
Assistant to Choreographer Amy Campbell
Carmen Clémentine Margaine (until 5 July)
Milijana Nikolic
Don José

Yonghoon Lee (until 5 July)
Brandon Jovanovich

Escamillo Michael Honeyman (until 5 July)
Shane Lowrencev
Micaëla Natalie Aroyan (until 5 July)
Stacey Alleaume

Adrian Tamburini

Dancairo Luke Gabbedy
Remendado Kanen Breen
Moralès Christopher Hillier
Frasquita Jane Ede
Mercédès Margaret Trubiano

Opera Australia Chorus

Australia Opera and Ballet Orchestra

Running time: approximately 3 hours, including one 20-minute interval.

Production Partner


The StoryHide

Small-town boy Don José is serving with the army far from home. His fellow soldiers are captivated by an alluring woman, Carmen. He thinks only of home, his mother, and the pretty Micaëla, a young girl who comes to deliver a letter from home.

Carmen is intrigued by the shy Don José. Arrested for beginning a fight, Carmen seduces Don José to win her freedom — and convinces him to desert the army to join her in an outlaw's life of liberty.

But her wandering eye has already found another lover: the dashing bullfighter, Escamillo. Don José's jealousy is fierce, Escamillo's passion is determined, Carmen’s fate is set in the cards…

Not afraid of spoilers? Read the full synopsis.

"This is a Carmen not to be missed."

Daily Review

"John Bell creates a vivid and seductive Cuban-flavoured affair"

The Sydney Morning Herald

"Where Bell’s production really delivered was in its dramatic force and emotional power."

The Australian (subscription required)
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