Carmen as depicted in figure skating by Olympic gold medallist Katarina Witt

Carmen as depicted in figure skating by Olympic gold medallist Katarina Witt featured image

Figure skater Katarina Witt, Olympic gold medallist in Calgary 1988 with her Carmen

Georges Bizet is most famous for his opera Carmen, the story of the young minx who worked in a cigarette factory who was dangerous with her flirtatious ways and it all came down to a tragic end.

The Calgary 1988 Olympics was HUGE for figure skating: The Battle of the Brians (Boitano and the Canadian Orser) and The Battle of the Carmens (Katarina Witt and Debi Thomas). It was a mixed result for Canada; Brian Orser’s silver medal was to him, a loss of gold; Elizabeth Manley’s silver was a HUGE victory. (She actually won the long program, but Witt’s overall score gave her the gold).

Katarina Witt’s Carmen was memorable – her striking outfit and heavy makeup left a strong impression on me (years later I read an article in which Witt admitted she was very nervous and kept re-applying her lipstick). I still remember many of Witt’s dance elements to this day, but thinking it was a tad anti-climactic. After her performance, Elizabeth Manley took to the ice, and blew the roof off the area. I cried and screamed. (I was young.)

I cannot embed the link due to Olympic restrictions, but here’s the link for you to cut and paste into your browser, if you’d like to see Katarina Witt’s gold medal performance as skated to Bizet’s Carmen.

George Bizet was born October 25, 1838 in Paris, and died June 3, 1875, in Bougival, near Paris.

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