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Alonso's scenario centers on Carmen, Don José and the bullfighter Escamillo. Carmen is a passionate, free-spirited woman in contrast to the temperamental and fickle Don José. Fate, a ballerina dressed in black and a representation of Carmen's alter ego, tells Carmen's fortune with a deck of cards. A fight with tobacco dealers leads to Carmen's arrest by Captain Zúñiga. In jail, she seduces Don José and convinces him to release her. Carmen is subsequently caught in a love triangle between Don José and popular bullfighter Escamillo.
Boris Messerer's sets included a mock bullring which symbolizes life, uniting the bullfight and Carmen's destiny in a sinister personage. Masked spectators and a uniformed judge represent society's disapproval for the unconventional behavior of Carmen and her lovers. Fate reappears in the final act playing the role of a bull and the three main characters meet in the arena. Carmen dances alternatively with Fate, Escamillo and Don José until she is stabbed. She dies caressing Don José's face, revealing him as the assassin.