In French with English subtitles
Bizet’s masterpiece of the gypsy seductress who lives by her own rules has had an impact far beyond the opera house. The opera’s melodic sweep is as irresistible as the title character herself, a force of nature who has become a defining female cultural figure. Carmen was a scandal at its premiere but soon after became a triumphal success and has remained one of the most frequently staged operas in the world.
The opera takes place in and around Seville, a city that, by the time Carmen was written, had already served many operatic composers as an exotic setting conducive to erotic intrigues and turmoil (Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, among others). The hometown of Don Juan, the city also inspired Mozart with Don Giovanni, and Beethoven used Seville as the setting for a study of marital fidelity in Fidelio.
The score of Carmen contains so many instantly recognizable tunes that it can be easy to overlook how well constructed it is. The major solos are excellent combinations of arresting melody and dramatic purpose—from the baritone’s famous Toreador Song to the tenor’s wrenching Flower Song to the title character’s alluring Habanera and Seguidilla—and the duets and ensembles are equally beguiling.
USA 2019, 219 min, rated PG (violence & sexual references), incl one 40 min intermission
Conducted by Omer Meir Wellber
Starring Clémentine Margaine, Yonghoon Lee, Kyle Ketelsen & Guanqun Yu