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Carmen Jones
PREMIERE12/2/1943 — The Broadway Theatre
COMPOSERSGeorges Bizet   Oscar Hammerstein II   
LIBRETTISTOscar Hammerstein II   
 
Synopsis
Parachute maker Carmen Jones makes a play for a "fly boy" Air Force man, Joe, who is in love with sweet Cindy Lou and about to marry her on a day pass when Carmen gets into a fight with another woman.

Joe's pass is cancelled in order for him to drive her to the next town to be handed over to the non-military police. Instead, Carmen charms him and escapes, and he is put in the stockade for not delivering her to the authorities.

While Carmen waits for Joe to be released from military prison, she hangs around Billy Pastor's jive cafe where she encounters boxer Husky Miller, who is instantly besotted with Carmen, calling her "heatwave".

Carmen is initially uninterested. But her friends Frankie and Mert know that their invitation from Husky's manager to see him fight in Chicago depends on Carmen's being there, too.
Portrait of Muriel Rahn in the title role in the 1943 original Broadway production of Carmen Jones
Muriel Rahn (age 32) in the title role in the 1943 original Broadway production of Carmen Jones.

Joe, having been released from the stockade, turns up at the cafe the same evening. At first, his prospects seem to be looking up, as his connections have put Joe back on track for aviator school. Carmen lays down a guilt trip, however, protesting that a long-distance relationship, with Joe 400 miles (640 km) away at school, just isn't what she had in mind. He immediately gets into a fight with his sergeant, who is making a move on Carmen, as well as laying down some heavy shade on Joe. Starting the fight alone would have been enough to put Joe back in military prison for years, but the fight goes badly, and the sergeant ends up apparently dead. Carmen makes Joe hide the body, since desertion sounds better than a lengthy sentence.

The train ticket to Chicago originally given to Carmen offers them a way of avoiding the MPs. After a few days hiding out in a seedy hotel with no money and no future with Joe, Carmen pays a visit to her two friends, now covered in diamonds and furs, at Husky's training camp. She is only looking for a loan, but they try to draw her to give up Joe and "go with the money" by staying with Husky.

Later, at Husky's apartment, Frankie reads Carmen's "cards", and reveals the Nine of Spades - the card of Death. In the belief that her days are numbered, Carmen gives in to Husky's advances, abandoning Joe for the luxurious life Husky can offer her.

Cindy Lou comes to look for Joe, but he is still in love with Carmen and spurns Cindy Lou. The night of Husky's title fight, Joe turns up to try to convince Carmen to come back to him, but when she rejects him, he kills her, thus making the card's prophecy a reality.
MOST PRODUCED SINCE 2000
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This work ranks as the #281 most produced North American title since 2000.
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