Bizet's Carmen is probably the best known opera of the standard repertoire, yet its very familiarity often prevents us from approaching it with the seriousness it deserves. This Handbook explores the opera in a number of contexts, bringing to the surface the controversies over gender, race, class and musical propriety. After a study of Merimee's story Carmen by Peter Robinson, Susan McClary examines the social tensions in nineteenth-century France that inform both that story and the opera, and traces the opera through its genesis and reception. The Handbook concludes with discussions of four films based on the opera. The volume contains a bibliography, music examples, and a synopsis and will be of interest to students, scholars, and operagoers.