Though she first appeared in Prosper Mérimée’s novel nearly 30 years earlier, it was Bizet’s 1874 opera that made the title character of Carmen the model for the femme fatale cliché for more than a century and counting. Back then, Spanish gypsy women were about as exotic a sex object as 19th-century French audiences could imagine, but Bizet pioneered what would become a proud literary tradition that today allows us to fetishize “hot blooded” women of all cultures. The Summer Opera Theatre Company, D.C.’s “we try harder” Avis to the Washington Opera’s Hertz, continues to rack up glowing reviews that for some reason always mention its tight financial situation. Perhaps this perennial crowd pleaser will bring the company some ticket sales to accompany the accolades it’s earned. See mezzo-soprano Teresa Buchholz in the title role as, with a sway of her hips, she turns good soldier Don Jose into a mutinous traitor and deranged homicidal maniac. The performance begins at 2:30 p.m. at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Harman Center for the Arts, 610 F St. NW. $60–$80. (202) 526-1669.