by Oscar Hammerstein II based on Meilhac and Halevy's adaptation of Prosper
Music by Georges Bizet.
Broadway Theatre - 2 December, 1943 (502 perfs)
Old Vic Theatre, London - 8 April, 1991
Whilst other musical shows adapted from operas have made wholesale changes to the original source material, this reworking of Bizet's Carmen made few changes to either score or storyline. The setting, however, has been drastically altered from Spain to America's deep south with a World War II parachute factory taking the place of a Spanish cigarette factory. Dramatically altering the audience response is the fact that all the characters in Carmen Jones are black.
The torrid story of the voluptuous and fickle Carmen Jones, who is destroyed by her jealous lover, Joe, reaches a new and wider audience in the vivid recreation of an operatic masterpiece. Famous songs include "Dere's A Cafe On De Comer", "Beat Out Dat Rhythm On A Drum", "Dat's Love" and "Dis Flower".
Carmen Jones is a worker in a Southern state parachute factory. It's wartime and Carmen always appears to be at the heart of any fight that's going on. Corporal Joe is detailed to go and arrest her. On seeing Joe Carmen is smitten with him. The feelings are reciprocal and Joe subsequently allows Carmen to escape arrest and he deserts the army.
However, Carmen, whose attraction for men has always been somewhat fickle, has attracted the not unwelcome attentions of prize-fighter Husky Miller. Carmen follows him to Chicago where he is in training for an important boxing match. Carmen ditches Joe without hesitation but Joe is not to be put off that easily and he follows Carmen to Chicago.
Carmen arrives outside the stadium where Husky Miller is to fight. Whilst there she is approached by a down-and-out, a refugee from justice. It is one very desperate Joe. All that matters in life is his love for Carmen and he begs her to pick up where they had left off. Carmen declines - Joe is a reference to her past life - today it is to be with Husky Miller. Maddened with jealousy, Joe stabs and kills her outside the stadium just as the roar of the crowd signals the triumph of Miller winning his fight. Joe waits resignedly for the arrival of the police to arrest him.
Cast: 10 men, 6 women, chorus
Carmen Jones - a parachute factory worker
Joe - a soldier
Husky Miller - a fighter
Cindy Lou - Joe's sweetheart
Frankie - Carmen's friend
Remo the drummer
- Cain't Let You Go
- Honey Gal o' Mine
- Good Luck Mr Fryin' Man
- Dat's Love
- You Talk Jus' Like My Maw
- Dere's a Cafe on de Corner
- Beat Out Dat Rhythm on the Drum
- Stan' Up and Fight
- Whizzin' Away Along de Track
- Dis Flower
- If YOu Would Only Come Away
- De Cards Don' Lie
- Dat Ol' Boy
- Poncho de Panther from Brazil
- My Joe
- Git Yer Program for de Big Fight
- Dat's Our Man
2 flutes (2nd db. piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, percussion, harp, piano, strings
Original London Cast Recording - EMI Classics CDC 7 54351 2