Italy: Ending of opera ‘Carmen’ re-written to be more feminist. Will we now have to change all the endings in literature?

The director of the Theatre of Florence (Teatro del Maggio) decided to rewrite the ending of the world-famous opera ‘Carmen’ by Bizet (1875) to speak out on violence against women. In the new ending, it is the main character Carmen who kills her former lover instead of Don Josè killing Carmen in a jealous rage in the original version, because the lady fell in love with the glamorous bullfighter Escamillo.

The new version opened on January 7th in Florence and was not welcomed by the Italian audience who applauded the cast and orchestra but booed the director Leo Muscato who created the new ending.

This provoked a flow of criticisms in Italy. Gianluca Nicoletti, an Italian journalist from the columns of La Stampa, ironically suggested to change other world-famous opera or masterpieces such as the Iliade, Divina Commedia or Otello, to be more politically correct but also ‘unreal’ and ‘boring’. “The literature tells the life, in its disgrace and in its beauty. It doesn’t have to give lessons of behaviour otherwise it should be called doctrine,” Nicoletti says.

One of the voices in favour of the feminist Carmen was Florence’s mayor Nardella (Partito Democratico, S&D) who twitted his support of “the decision to change the ending of , who doesn’t die. Cultural, social and ethical message denouncing violence against women are increasing in Italy.”