It's a piece I know quite well from recordings and I've got a copy of the DVD with Placido Domingo as Don Jose, so it was to be a fairly gentle introduction into the arcane world of sung storylines.
I loved every minute of it and had to be stopped from conducting from the circle during the opening bars of the overture - I was a bit over-excited.
Some readers may remember I chose The Habonera as one of my Desert Island tunes and I finally got to hear it sung live by a world class performer; simply magical.
The toreador song got the old feet tapping - and what a voice Steven Gadd displayed in his performance as Escamillo. It was some of the lesser known arias that really impressed, though. In particular the duets with heavenly voices intertwining in almost impossible harmonies.
I believed before I went that some suspension of disbelief might be necessary in the acting and storyline, and I was not disappointed. It was hard not to snigger as Don Jose pleads for the umpteenth time to Carmen "don't you love me anymore?" - it's been bleeding obvious since Act One that she doesn't love you, knobhead.
We saw Sara Fulgoni in the title role (she's in each of the accompanying pictures), she possesses a sublime voice and a slightly fuller figure than might be expected from a Spanish gypsy living in near poverty. I couldn't quite believe in her character's sexual predation, she just seemed a bit too nice. But, hey, with that voice - who's moaning?
I can't wait to see another opera - the spectacle of the crowd scenes, the mastery of the principal singers: awe inspiring and unforgettable.