Deeper Into Jeopardy! XXI: Opera Characters – $1200

Jeopardy! category: OPERA CHARACTERS (13-06-2014)

$1200 clue: While reading fortunes in a pack of cards, she sees death for herself & her lover Don Jose

Correct response

The gist: Back in the 19th century, if you’re going to name your opera after a gypsy (the libretto’s word, not mine), she’s going to be reading someone’s fortune. 

In George Bizet’s Carmen, the title woman, a beautiful and dangerous gypsy who works in a cigarette factory in Seville, charms Don Jose into helping her escape from prison after she wounds another woman in a knife fight. Unfortunately for the Don, he’s already promised to marry the peasant girl Micaela. Even more unfortunately, he’s tossed into jail after he’s discovered aiding and abetting Carmen’s escape. A few weeks later, with Don Jose still in prison, Carmen and her friends get hit on at an inn by the macho bullfighter Escamillo and by Officer Zuniga, who’d put Carmen in jail before – but Carmen waits for Don Jose’s imminent release. Sure enough, Don Jose shows up at the in to meet her, but is summoned back to town by a bugle blast – which Carmen convinces him to ignore. Zuniga arrives and berates Don Jose for neglecting his duty, but fails to convince him to return to town, and Carmen’s nogoodnik smuggler friends subdue Zuniga and take him away. Don Jose, seeing no other choice, runs off with Carmen.

Off at the nogoodniks’ place, Carmen’s become bored with the whiny Don Jose and tries some good old fashioned taunting to get him to leave. When that doesn’t work, her friends take out a deck of cards and begin fortune telling – wealth and happiness for them, but death for Carmen and Don Jose. Meanwhile, the nogoodniks go off on a caper and Escamillo and Micaela both show up at the same time, but separately. Escamillo enters the hideout guns a-blazing, and Micaela hides behind a rock while he tells Don Jose of his love for Carmen, and a story about Carmen running away with another man (who, unbeknownst to the bullfighter, is Don Jose himself). They get in a fight and Escamillo leaves, and Micaela enters and convinces Don Jose to return home by telling him his mother is sick. Don Jose promises to return to Carmen, but as he leaves we see her following the sound of Escamillo’s baritone.

In the final act, Carmen and Escamillo are walking in the paseillo together, when Carmen’s friends warn her that Don Jose is planning to kill her. Carmen leaves the arena to confront him, and Don Jose confesses his love for her. Carmen, perhaps braver than she is smart, tells him she no longer loves him and throws the ring he gave her in the first – Don Jose stabs her a fit on rage at the same moment that Escamillo is bored by the bull in the arena. The opera ends with Don Jose confessing his crime to the crowd at the bullfight.

Carmen, Act I, outside the cigarette factory

The clue: Two main bits of info in this clue, one more obvious than the other, if you aren’t familiar with the plot of Carmen. The main bit, of course, is mentioning Don Jose – not only giving the male lead, but also placing the opera in Spain (or at least a Spanish-speaking part of the world). The second is the fortune telling business – that might clue you in on the “gypsy” thing, which could also get you to Carmen.

In Jeopardy!: “Carmen” is not only an opera but also a not-uncommon first name and the word for “song” in a few Romance languages, so we’ll go with a search for “Carmen opera” in the J!Archive which returns 43 clues (plus two unrelated ones). The most common theme, of course, is the composer Georges Bizet, in 26 clues. As for the setting, the city of Seville (8) gets more mentions than Spain (6, including “Spanish”). “Gypsy” is in 12. Like the other operas in this category, too, clues often ask for the title or title character of the opera, which is another good hint when coupled with another of the above.

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