A square in Seville. On the background there are the tobacco factory and the barracks. Micaela, Don Josè's fiancée, makes her way through the crowd to speak to him. Don Josè is marching in the squad, he is telling to Captain Zuniga how he doesn't feel attracted by the fascinating cigarettes girls, preferring his sweet Micaela. The factory bell rings, announcing the exit of the girls from the factory. The charming Carmen notices Don José and approaches him but he doesn't consider her. She then starts dancing the famous dance "habanera" and throws a red flower at him, challenging him. Micaela tells Don Josè she needs to go visit her sick mother but she will be back soon. Don Josè is called back from the factory, Carmen has been involved in a fight, she has gashed a cigarettes girl with a knife. He must arrest her but somehow she manages to distract him and runs away.
Avec la garde montante, Street boys Chorus
L'amour est un oiseau rebelle, Habanera of Carmen
Parle-moi de ma mère!, duet between Don José and Micaela
A month has passed. In Lillas Pastia tavern, where there are smugglers, officials, soldiers and gipsies, Carmen and her friends Mercedes and Frasquita, is dancing and singing. The officials are entertained by the girls, among them there's Captain Zuniga who has a passion for Carmen. Escamillo the toreador arrives, he's just won the corrida in Granada and is struck by Carmen's charm. Dancairo and Remendado, two smugglers, approach Carmen to use her for their traffics as usual, but this time she refuses. She wants to know what has happened to Don Josè after he's been imprisoned for not arresting her. Now he's free again and has come to the tavern to watch her dancing. When a bugle call from the barracks forces Don Josè to go back, Carmen convinces him to stay behind with her. Captain Zuniga arrives and the two men engage in a fight but the smugglers help Don Josè by blocking Zuniga so Carmen and Don Josè can leave.
Les tringles des sistres tintaient, Chanson bohème of Carmen, Frasquita, Mercedes
Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre... Toreador, en garde, Escamillo's aria
Je vais danser en votre honneur, duet between Don José and Carmen
La fleur que tu m'avais jetée, Don José's aria
In the smugglers' hideout, Don Josè and Carmen are alone. She has now grow bored of him and is not giving him attentions, making him jealous. She then predicts her own future: according to the cards, she will die of a violent death. Micaela arrives, she's looking for Don Josè but he hides. All of a sudden there's a gunshot: Don Josè has attempted to shoot Escamillo who has managed to escape. The pair fight with the knife, Don Josè is about to hit the toreador but Carmen defends him. Don Josè threatens the cigarettes girl but Micaela comes forward, she's there to tell Don Josè her mother is about to die and wants to see him for the last time. Everyone convince him to leave with her.
It's the day of the corrida, the crowd is gathered in the arena of Seville, it is acclaiming Escamillo, who arrives with Carmen. Mercedes and Frasquita urge Carmen to leave because Don Josè is looking for her. Don Josè approaches Carmen and begs her to run away with him to have a life together but Esamillo's victory interrupts him and Carmen runs towards the toreador, claiming her love for him. Don Josè, blinded by jealousy, plunges a knife in Carmen's heart and she falls dead on the ground. Don Josè desperately invokes her name and is arrested without opposition.