With a passionate easy-to-follow storyline, flamboyant Spanish costumes and much-loved music, it also makes it one of the best operas for newcomers to the genre to enjoy.
This version of Carmen, from award-winning producer Ellen Kent, features the Moldovan National Opera and the Moldovan National Philharmonic Orchestra performing alongside international soloists at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham on March 2.
Carmen is a seductive Spanish gypsy woman who entices worthy soldier Don Jose away from the army, his girlfriend and his honourable life. Despite giving up everything for love, he is driven to despair when the temptress continues to accept advances from a heroic bullfighter, which leads to devastating consequences.
Drawing inspiration for the sets from paintings by Goya, there is a backdrop of a bullring, flowers strewn across the stage and fountains flowing with water to bring alive the essence of Seville.
Producer Kent says: "I try to do opera that people actually want to see – that people can identify with and cry and feel moved.
I aim to make opera understandable and enjoyable – using the same genre as the best of musicals, such as Phantom of the Opera or Miss Saigon. People don't want to be educated, they want to be entertained and have a great night out."
Carmen will be performed at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre
Kent, who spent her teenage years in Spain, adds: "My mother used to run the equivalent of the RSPCA in Spain when I was growing up and the farm was full of 30 to 40 donkeys, the same number of dogs and even more cats.
We used to travel miles across the countryside to festivals when they were planning to sacrifice a donkey. We'd buy the donkey off them and run – often chased by villagers. There was never a dull moment."
The tour features celebrated international soloists mezzo soprano Nadia Stoianova, soprano Maria Tsonina, baritone Vladimir Dragos and tenor Sorin Lupu.
Carmen is sung in French with English surtitles.
Carmen is performed at New Alexandra Theatre on March 2.