The setting is modern-day Philadelphia and Los Angeles instead of 19th century Spain. The music is hip-hop, not opera.
And because it’s on MTV, the star is the video music channel’s diva du jour, Beyonce Knowles of the R&B trio Destiny’s Child.
“Carmen,” airing Tuesday night, has a soundtrack from its co-stars, including Knowles, Da Brat, Wyclef Jean and Mos Def.
The retelling of the classic opera features Knowles as Carmen Brown and Mekhi Phifer as police officer Derrick Hill, who falls for her and helps her escape from jail.
“She’s very sexy and… just her whole attitude – she’s not gonna let any person get in the way of that, so I definitely can identify with that,” Knowles said.
Producer Robert Townsend said the stars stretched their talent for the movie.
“I’ve gotta really give it up for them because though Beyonce is a singer, she’s rapping, and Mekhi is rapping, so they’re wearing double hats. And so I think after this they might go on the road together,” he said laughing. “MC Beyonce.”
Said Knowles: “I was nervous about rappin’ but it turned out great.”