Regina Resnik as Carmen, Vienna, ca. 1970.
Georges Bizet (1838–1875) is known to opera audiences almost exclusively for his masterpiece, Carmen. Written in the opéra comique style (that is, with spoken dialogue), it was in many respects an atypical work for Bizet, most notably because of the overt sexuality of the title character, as well as her violent onstage death. These factors caused controversy even before the opera was completed. In rehearsals Bizet faced opposition from the chorus, which was asked to depart from its usual practice of acting and responding as a unit and, instead, to portray individual characters; moreover, the women in the cast objected to fighting and smoking onstage.