The first words uttered by Carmen mark one of the greatest entrances in the history of opera and express all that need be said: “Love is a rebellious bird that no one can tame…” With a devilish sway of the hips and a hint of Andalusian flair, the beautiful cigar-maker sets her sights on a soldier: Don José. Fate will do the rest. Though immediately regarded as a masterpiece throughout Europe, it took time for Carmen to win acceptance in Paris where it received a lukewarm reception at its premiere in 1875. Composed to a libretto by Meilhac and Halévy based on Prosper Mérimée’s novella, the opera exploded the boundaries between tragedy and comedy with a modernity that caused a scandal at the time. Can we kill the one we love with love? The fiery beauty of Bizet’s music, where one unforgettable aria follows another, has worked year in, year out to make it the world’s most performed opera.