- Carmen, the fictitious story of a Spanish Gypsy, was written by Prosper Mérimée in 1846 after he visited a Spanish cigarette factory, and it was turned into an opera by Georges Bizet in 1875. It is said that Mérimée wrote the story in just eight days. The story of a love triangle (or quadrilateral, if we count Carmen's husband) has been filmed by, among others, Jean-Luc Godard, Cecil B. De Mille, Francesco Rosi, and Carlos Saura. It has recently been turned into a flamenco opera by Antonio Gades and an ice-show - the latter with a sequence of Irish step-dancing on skates that has no parallel in the original story or opera. It was adapted as the musical Carmen Jones-with a black cast-in 1943 (and later filmed). James Robinson produced a play in 1997 at the Court Theater in Chicago based on the original novel with moderate success. In 2004 South African film director Mark Dornford-May set the story in a shantytown with the libretto delivered in the Xhosa language (U-Carmen Ekhayelitsha). The story carries the essentially misogynistic message that female sexual liberation is ultimately punishable by death, but this has not served to diminish its enduring appeal.
Historical dictionary of the Gypsies . Donald Kenrick.