Carmen is a dazzling beauty, whose fiery passion, free spirit and love of life captivates the hearts of nearly everyone she meets, especially the men.
Based on the true stories, the lives, the culture of three courageous Hispanic women who first brought civilization to Fort Pueblo in the Arkansas River Valley – now Pueblo, Colorado - in 1846 when the United States declared war on Mexico.
An American Southwest Carmen: A dramatic ballet in two acts.
The time is the 1840s, the place, El Pueblo (Fort Pueblo) in the Colorado Territory, American Southwest.
Scene I: Late afternoon in the placita (courtyard) of El Pueblo. The Pueblo children are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the U.S. cavalry and Kit Carson who are preparing for a scouting expedition that will take them all the way to California. Lt. John Fremont has hired Carson to ride from El Pueblo to Bent’s Fort to purchase mules for the expedition. Kit Carson tells the Pueblo children one of his famous frontier stories as Fremont summons hunters hired to supply him with fresh meat.
One of the hunters is suspected of being an agent looking for whiskey and the “outlaw traders” who have been smuggling the whiskey across the Mexican border to trade with the Indians. The other hunter is a proud, experienced marksman named El Viejo Wells, and this is his first visit to El Pueblo. Wells is the new hired hand working at Matthew Kinkead’s hardscrabble ranch.
The traditional and “proper” Magdalena Martinez and her friends enter the placita supplying the men with fresh milk and water. Wells instantly recognizes Magdalena as a former lover. He seeks to renew their relationship by giving her a white rose. The white rose has always reminded him of the calm, stable, traditional side of Magdalena’s personality. He has always thought of her as the “Lady of the White Rose.”
As fate would have it, the former lovers are interrupted by the feisty Nicolassa and her two colleagues, Maria Lopez and Antonia Luna. Nicolassa challenges Magdalena and they squabble. Before any harm is done Nicolassa’s friend “Carmen” Candeloria Sena appears on the bastion and stops the ruckus.
Carmen is a dazzling beauty, whose fiery passion, free spirit and love of life captivates the hearts of nearly everyone she meets, especially the men. Wells is no exception. From the moment he sets his eyes on her, he is smitten. Carmen expresses her passion and love for life through a sultry dance that mesmerizes the men. She drops a red rose at the feet of her suitors and they fight over it. Lt. Fremont tries to stop the fight, but it is too late; he is unable to keep Jim Waters from killing young Ed Tharpe in a duel.
Meanwhile, Carmen picks up her rose and is as much taken with Viejo as he is with her. Oblivious to the duel, the star-crossed lovers are drawn closer together through the intoxicating power of the red rose. They meet. Carmen offers Wells the rose. He accepts and Carmen leaves. Against the powerful scent of the red rose, Magdalena’s white rose fades, and Viejo pursues Carmen.
Scene II: Early evening, the placita at El Pueblo. Viejo follows Carmen to a fandango (social dance party) where he meets her smuggler friends. Carmen works for Nicolassa and Rube Herring- the leader of the “outlaw traders” who smuggle whiskey across the border. While he is looking for Carmen, Wells has some irritating encounters with the pickpocket children who also work for Fisher and Herring. But he relaxes when Nicolassa promises that he will see Carmen soon enough. Nicolassa invites Wells to dance with her and Wells joins the smugglers in a lively Aragonaise. When Carmen arrives, she dances an enticing Seguedilla and encourages Viejo to join her. He does and everyone dances in a frenzy of pleasure.
Scene III: Midnight outside El Pueblo, en route to Viejo’s cabin, Carmen teases Viejo and he chases after her possessively until she succumbs to him and agrees to be his “live-in” lover, his wife.
Scene IV: Early morning at Viejo’s cabin and afternoon on the high plans desert. Carmen stirs from a deep sleep and tenderly kisses the still sleeping Viejo. She is restless and is lured outside to taste the wild, free spirit of the wind as it blows across the high plains desert. Awake and watching her, Viejo longs to posses the freedom, the honestly, the spontaneity, the natural wildness that is Carmen. An elusive shadow disturbs his vision, and then passes. Carmen sees him and they express the depth of their love for each other. A bugle sounds from the bastion of El Pueblo shattering the quiet intensity of the early morning hours. The Pueblo children come from the fort to play with their beloved Carmen. Viejo soon learns that Carmen’s games are used to teach the children the art of “pick pocketing” and smuggling. At first, Viejo is reluctant to join the games, but he realizes that Carmen means well: she is teaching the children skills they will need to survive the harsh frontier environment. Infected with her enthusiasm, Viejo falls deeper in love with Carmen.
As the children disappear, they are replaced by Carmen’s smuggler friends who are leaving El Pueblo for a trading rendezvous with the plains Indians. Viejo is reluctant, but Carmen convinces him to go with her.
En route, Carmen tells Viejo that they may have to kill an enemy agent who has been sent to stop the Pueblo smugglers from trading with the Indians. The agent works for a company in the East that wants to monopolize the whiskey and fur trading industry. But the agent turns out to be Viejo’s former hunting companion, so he refuses to get involved.
Disappointed, Carmen takes the knife from Viejo and accompanies Rube Herring to the camp where the plains Indians and phony agent are waiting. Herring is unable to negotiate a good deal with the agent until he enlists Carmen to use her abilities to negotiate the deal. She succeeds. But the agent makes advances and Viejo can stand no more. In a moment of passion, he intervenes and kills the agent.
Scene V: Evening at the campsite, somewhere on the high plains desert. Carmen and her friends are intent on celebrating the success of the trading venture with the Indians, while somber Viejo sits sulking in the background. Viejo has killed before, but never for the love of a woman, and he is disturbed at the depth and the power this love has over him. The more addicted he becomes to Carmen’s free spirit and passion, the more angry and possessive he feels. Carmen treats him gently but does not understand his despondency. She summons the others to make Viejo feel more a part of the group. They treat him as a hero and eventually their enthusiasm and passion for living rubs off on him. They celebrate with an exhilarating dance around the campfire. Viejo’s love for Carmen ultimately compels him to draw her closer to him. No matter what the outcome, he must pursue his “Lady of the Red Rose.”
Scene I: Late afternoon just outside El Pueblo. Lt. John Fremont and Kit Carson are again visiting El Pueblo gathering resources for Fremont’s third expedition. This expedition has a dual purpose: 1) to continue exploration of the Western Territories; 2) To reconnoiter and fortify the territories for the possibility of war between Mexico and the United States.
When visitors such as Fremont’s men come to El Pueblo, the Pueblo men place high status on the winner of a target shooting contest. The scene opens with El Viejo Wells in a competition with one of Fremont’s soldiers, La Fontaine. As good a marksman as Well is, La Fontaine bests him. The Pueblo citizens celebrate the event by parading the winner just outside the entry of El Pueblo. Magdalena and her friends dance in celebration and La Fontaine joins them. Carmen and her friends do not want to be left out and decide to welcome the stranger their own way by dancing a lively Flamenco dance. Carmen is at her dazzling best when dancing, but in La Fontaine she has met her match. They have a friendly competition, which culminates in a fiery duet. Everyone is enjoying themselves until an angry, jealous El Viejo arrives. As the crowd leaves to prepare for the fandango, Viejo grabs Carmen and forbids her from dancing again and from attending the fandango. Distraught, El Viejo seeks solace and comfort from Magdalena, while the compassionate La Fontaine returns to bring solace and comfort to Carmen. For Viejo, the fragrance of the white rose overpowers the fragrance of the red rose and he follows Magdalena to the fandango.
Scene II: The placita inside El Pueblo. Viejo dances with both Magdalena and Nicolassa. As a shadow passes over him, he realizes how much he misses Carmen’s passion, freedom and abandon. Carmen is the essence of love for him. The shadow disintegrates as the fragrance of the red rose grows potent and lures him back to his love, his life: Carmen.
Scene III: A rejected Carmen, her freedom restricted, still waits for Viejo’s return. Meanwhile, La Fontaine seeks to cheer her up by dancing a sensuous habanera with her. Just as they finish, Viejo shows up. Thinking he has been betrayed, Viejo’s anger flares up and consumes him as he challenges La Fontaine to a duel. Viejo’s fire is strong; he kills La Fontaine.
Now Carmen’s fiery temper is unleashed at the senseless death of La Fontaine. She challenges Viejo, and their love turns to rage. In blind fury, Viejo stabs Carmen. Dying Carmen and Viejo profess their love for each other. The red rose is still more potent than the white, even in death. The shadow passes through Viejo; Carmen dies, and Viejo is left alone in his anguish.