Original Articles

Carmen: a migration

Published in: Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa
Volume 3, issue 1, 2006 , pages: 82–93
DOI: 10.2989/18121000609486711
Author(s): Stephanie Dias


Carmen's popularity as an opera has endured through time; its global success and popularity are testimony to the opera's ability to remain relevant in different cultures and ages. The aim of this essay is to explore how issues of race, class and gender that surrounded Carmen (1875) in 19th-century France are still relevant today. The essay focuses on the black underclass and gender development in South Africa, with an emphasis on the notion of women as 'other' and the feminine as 'pathological' in society.1 It explores Carmen's relevance in South African society with reference to the South African film version of Carmen entitled U-Carmen Ekhayelitsha (2005), a film which serves an important informative function, both in highlighting the problematic class differentiation within black South African society, and informing the broader transnational public of the reality of life in a South African township.

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