Previously, and brilliantly, adapted as an opera by Georges Bizet, the Prosper Merimee novel Carmen served as the inspiration for this updated made-for-cable movie. Set in contemporary Los Angeles, the film stars Beynoce Knowles of Destiny's Child as the seductive Carmen, no longer an employee in a cigarette factory but instead an aspiring actress. The "Don Jose" character has become a cop named Sgt. Derek Hill (Mekhi Phifer), who after being ordered by his corrupt superior officer Frank Miller (played by rapper Mos Def) to arrest Carmen for her involvement in a bar fight, falls hopelessly--and tragically--in love with her. After leading Hill down the path to perdition, Carmen deserts him, not out of love for bullfighter Escamillo but for a top-40 rap star named Blaze (Casey Lee). Although the familiar Bizet melodies are heard as linking music, the main musical score is a complete original, composed by Kip Collins. MTV's Hip Hopera: Carmen first aired over the titular cable network on May 9, 2001.
by Hal Erickson synopsis