The classic world of opera comes to coins with Carmen, the classic tale of tragic love, with music by Bizet

An absolute classic in the opera world, Carmen was taken from a story by Prosper Mérimée, adapted for the stage by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, but most famous for its musical score, by French composer Georges Bizet. It was first performed in Paris by Opéra-Comique on 03 March 1875, to some controversy, but eventually garnering massive success. However, Bizet did not live long enough to enjoy it, dying just after the opera’s 33rd performance.

Carmen, set in Southern Spain, tells the story of soldier Don José, who is seduced by a fiery gypsy named Carmen. He dumps his childhood sweetheart, falls for Carmen, who then dumps him for a torero (from the appalling ‘sport’ of bullfighting). He kills her in a fit of rage. Nobody ever accused opera of complexity, or of being good for your hearing, but it’s full of emotions and relatable themes, comprising quite the spectacle compared to the average theatre performance. I’d still rather go and see the latest Minions film, but I’ve always been a Philistine…

Whatever your views on opera, or Carmen in particular, this is clearly a well produced, and very nicely realised numismatic. Even from our brief telling of the story, you can see this is Carmen, with her bright crimson dress, the Torero by her side. Carmen herself is coloured, the rest of the coin, antique-finished, except for the roofs of the buildings on the horizon, which are also picked out in colour. Issue inscriptions are all on the obverse, where they belong, in our view. Just the coin name, ‘Carmen Bizet’ is on the reverse, and it’s extravagantly framed.

We suspect the obverse design will be a common one for the series, featuring the signature theatre curtains that are pulled back to start the performance. The effigy of Queen Elizabeth II is placed here as well. This two-ounce, fine silver coin is presented in a wooden box, with a Certificate of Authenticity, all inside a themed outer shipper. The mintage of 500 pieces seems about right for the market. Opera isn’t a common theme on modern coins, so fans will be glad to see this, for sure. Fortunately, Mint XXI have done as fine a job with the coin as you’d expect. Available to order now, it’s expected to ship from late September.

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief, Colour
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes