Music: Women's Lib Carmen

One measure of a masterpiece is the amount of abuse it can take. The hit tunes from dozens of operas have been ragged, jived, jazzed, boogied, swung and popped—and most of them have emerged little the worse. Carmen, especially, has survived countless transmutations. Geraldine Farrar, Theda Bara and Rita Hayworth all vamped their way through screen versions; Bea Lillie mauled it at the Met. Maya Plisetskaya danced it to an orchestration including 47 percussion instruments. Oscar Hammerstein's Carmen Jones gave Bizet's gypsy girl a surname and set her to work packing parachutes in the Deep South.

A rock version was inevitable. The...

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