The 1875 premiere of Carmen at the Opera Comique in Paris was met with shocked gasps and raised eyebrows. Both the story and its seductive heroine were shockingly risque for the audience and the critics in attendance. But the genius of Bizet’s music was irrepressible, and the opera was a resounding success within a few short months. It remains among the most-performed operas in history.

On this week’s episode of He Sang/She Sang, hosts Merrin Lazyan and Julian Fleisher speak with conductor Asher Fisch all about Bizet’s masterpiece. We discuss why this opera is loved by opera newbies and connoisseurs alike, and Fisch shares a few of his tips and tricks for keeping an opera on track when it all starts to fall apart. We also speak with mezzo-soprano ClĂ©mentine Margaine, who is making her Metropolitan Opera debut as opera’s famous femme fatale — an independent, sexually liberated gypsy woman who trades her life for freedom.