Bizet’s opera Carmen, about the flamboyant, tragic figure of the gypsy woman Carmen and her lovers, the soldier Don Jose and the bullfighter Escamillo, is based on a novella by Prosper Mérimee. Mérimee was an archaeologist and historian as well as a novelist, and much of his descriptive writing, carried across to the opera’s libretto, was based on observation. Carmen famously worked in the tobacco factory in Seville but, far from being a dusty warehouse, this Baroque palace was the second-largest building in Spain. Now part of Seville University, it preserves many of the tobacco factory’s furnishings, and celebrates its role as Carmen’s workplace. Candilejo, the street where Lillas Pastia had his tavern, is still visitable, as is the bullring of the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, on the bank of the Guadalquivir river, where Carmen meets her fate. Simon Rees has worked as dramaturg on many productions of Carmen, and has photographed these and other locations in Seville, as well as researching costumes, sets and original productions, and musical illustrations, to give a vivid picture of Bizet’s most famous opera.