Overview

Carmen—herself a pawn of fate—lures a naive soldier and a bullfighter into a destructive rivalry for her affection, while the beguiling Habanera and Gypsy Song have their way with the audience. Bring a friend who hasn’t been to the opera—Carmen never fails to entice!

Music by Georges Bizet
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on  Prosper Mérimée’s novella
Premiere: Paris, 1875

Running time: About three hours (including two 19-minute intermissions)
Sung in French with projected English supertitle translations

Patrons’ Reviews

 

Drinking Carmen’s Sevilla

nuria100October 19, 6:30PM (one hour before curtain) $15
Join Franco-Iberian wine expert Núria Garrote i Esteve (founder of Vino Vi & Co.), along with cast members Sandra Piques Eddy (Carmen) and Alok Kumar (Don José), for a special pre-opera wine event.
RSVP

 

Artists

Ginger Costa-Jackson

Carmen

Oct 15, 19, 22

Ginger Costa-Jackson is dynamite as Carmen. From the moment she sweeps onto the stage in a whirl of skirts, she owns the show.
— Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk, MLive

 

Mezzo soprano Ginger Costa-Jackson is a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and a Samling Scholar. Last season she performed the role of Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with the Metropolitan Opera, and the title role in Bizet’s Carmen with the San Francisco Opera. This season, after her engagement with Michigan Opera Theatre, Ms. Jackson will make her debut at Opera de Paris as Despina in a new production of Cosi fan Tutte conducted by Philippe Jordan, Dorabella in Cosi fan Tutte with the Seattle Opera, and the role of Rosina with the Santa Cruz Symphony.

Ginger Costa-Jackson

Carmen

Oct 15, 19, 22

Sandra Piques Eddy

Carmen

Oct 23

Sandra Piques Eddy is an outstanding lyric mezzo with a rich, plummy voice, evenly and smoothly produced, and responsive to whatever demands she makes of it including an appropriate use of chest voice.
— Kevin Wells, Bachtrack

Last season, mezzo soprano Sandra Piques made her role debut as Charlotte in Werther with Boston Lyric Opera before returning to the Metropolitan Opera roster to cover Maddalena in Rigoletto. Career highlights include numerous appearances to great acclaim as the title role in Carmen, at Portland Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera North (UK), Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Coeur d’Alene and Chicago Opera Theater.  Other signature roles include: Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte with Hyogo Performing Arts Center-Japan, Boston Lyric Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera; Rosina with Vancouver Opera, Opera Omaha, Austin Lyric Opera, Jacksonville Symphony, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Crested Butte Music Festival

Sandra Piques Eddy

Carmen

Oct 23

Marcelo Puente

Don José

Oct 15, 19, 22

Tenor Marcelo Puente makes is U.S. debut in this production.

He has had great success as Cavaradossi in Tosca and as Don Jose in Carmen at the Landestheater Linz, as well as in the role of Rodolfo in La Boheme at the Oper Stuttgart.

Mr. Puente studied voice at the Conservatorio of Córdoba (Argentina) and at the Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires with Maestro Renato Sassola.

Marcelo Puente

Don José

Oct 15, 19, 22

Alok Kumar

Don José

Oct 23

Tenor Alok Kumar was a strong Don Jose…[H]is sound is manly and, when in full cry, particularly expressive and moving.
—Allegri Con Fuoco

 

Highlights for the 2016-2017 season include his company debut here and as Don José in Bizet’s Carmen with Michigan Opera Theater directed by Ron Daniels and conducted by Valerio Galli, Florida Grand Opera directed by Bernard Uzan and conducted by Ramón Tebar and Musica Viva in Hong Kong directed by Lo Kingman and conducted by Lio Kuokman. Mr. Kumar reprises the Duke of Mantua for a company debut in Palm Beach Opera’s production of Verdi’s Rigoletto directed by Jay Lesenger and conducted by Antonello Allemandi.

Alok Kumar

Don José

Oct 23

Luis Alejandro Orozco

Escamillo

An imposing presence, both vocally and dramatically
Cincinnati Enquirer

This season’s engagements for baritone Luis Alejandro Orozco include the title role in Don Giovanni at Bar Harbor Music Festival, his debut here as Escamillo, Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia in his house début with Florentine Opera, and a reprisal of his signature role, El Payador, in María de Buenos Aires with The Atlanta Opera.

Luis Alejandro Orozco

Escamillo

Cecilia Violetta Lopez

Micaela

Cecilia Violetta López’s cool, shimmering soprano easily vaulted the coloratura hurdles.
—New York Observer

Soprano Cecilia Violetta López has been named one of opera’s “25 Rising Stars” by Opera News. Her recent New York City debut in La Traviata was declared by the New York Observer as “a performance of the leading role of Violetta that is among the loveliest I have witnessed on any stage”. During the 2015-2016 season, Ms. López returned to Opera Idaho for Violetta, and made a company and role debut with Opera Tampa in three roles: Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), and Violetta (La Traviata).

Cecilia Violetta Lopez

Micaela

Brent Michael Smith

Zuniga

As a Studio Artist with Michigan Opera Theatre last season, Bass Brent Smith sang Colline in La Bohème, Second S.S. Officer in The Passenger, the Doctor in Macbeth and The Speaker in The Magic Flute.

Last year he was an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera, where his performance as Billy Jackrabbit in La fanciulla del West received critical acclaim by Opera News as a “standout.” Colorado Music Buzz praised him for “making the most of his brief appearances.”

He received his Master of Music degree under the tutelage of John Hines. He received his Bachelor’s in music in piano performance from Hope College (Holland, MI). Mr. Smith is a first-place winner in the Grand Rapids Opera Competition (2012).

Brent Michael Smith

Zuniga

Harry Greenleaf

Morales

Baritone Harry Greenleaf is a native of Wixom, Michigan. He is a proud alumnus of the Michigan State University College of Music, and received a Master of Music at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In 2013 and 2014 he was a Studio Aritist with the Wolf Trap Opera Company. While there he sang the role of Baron Douphol in La traviata with the National Symphony Orchestra, and Monsieur Barbu in Les mamelles de Tirésias. In the summer of 2015 he was an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera, covering the role of Sonora in La fanciulla del West. In 2015 he debuted with Cincinnati Chamber Opera, singing The Pilot in The Little Prince. In the summer of 2016 he will perform with the Glimmerglass Festival as Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd. He made his debut with Michigan Opera Theatre in 2016, singing the role of Top in The Tender Land, and will appear as Moralès in Carmen, Jake Wallace in La fanciulla del West, and Le Bret in Dr. David DiChiera’s Cyrano for the 2016-2017 season.

Harry Greenleaf

Morales

Angela Theis

Frasquita

A bright, bold, and beguilingly sung Zerlina
—The Boston Globe

Soprano Angela Theis performed several roles last season at Michigan Opera Theatre through her engagement as a Studio Artist, including Laurie in The Tender Land, 2nd Apparition in Macbeth, and Papagena in The Magic Flute. Previously, she has appeared with the company as Marzelline in Fidelio, Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro, and the High Priestess in Aida. A highlight of her career was when Dr. David DiChiera chose her to sing his compositions at his 2013 Kresge Eminent Artist award presentation and his 2015 tribute concert at the Detroit Opera House.  In 2013, Ms. Theis won the Audience Choice Award at the 2013 Meistersinger Competition in Austria. Ms. Theis completed a postgraduate fellowship in Salzburg, Austria, and holds degrees from New England Conservatory and University of Notre Dame.

Angela Theis

Frasquita

Briana Elyse Hunter

Mercedes

Mezzo-soprano Briana Hunter was a mesmerizing Carmen, contributing a fiery theatrical presence and dynamic vocalism. Hunter consistently displayed impressive fluidity in her flawless “Habanera” and “Seguidilla.”
— Opera News

Briana Hunter hails from Malvern, Pennsylvania where she was a student in the Great Valley School District, recognized for their strong music and theater programs. In 2000 she had the unique pleasure of working with Tony and Academy Award winning playwright Mark Medoff in a production of his play Gunfighter–A Gulf War Chronicle.

Ms. Hunter attended Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina and found herself on the stage once again, this time under the direction of the Royal Shakespeare Company in an original production double billed Infinite Variety/For Every Passion Something. The show would also have her call upon her vocal abilities as she presented “The Willow Song” from Rossini’s Othello in addition to playing the roles of Hippolyta in Midsummer Nights Dream and Lord Westmorland in Henry IV: Part I. The show debuted on the campus of Davidson College, and continued performances in the Fringe Festival in Scotland for an additional two week run. Back in North Carolina, Ms. Hunter went on to play Livia in Women Beware Women by Thomas Middleton, J.S. in Necessary Targets and “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could” The Vagina Monologues both by Eve Ensler, Karla Wonder of the World by David Lindsey-Abaire. No stranger to the music department, she also performed in opera scenes including 2nd Lady Die Zauberflote and Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, and the title role of Josephine in a full production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore. The Davidson Concert Choir awarded her the solo in John Corigliano’s Fern Hill.

She went on to attend the prestigious Manhattan School of Music for Classical Voice where she performed in mainstage productions with the opera department (Summer and Smoke, La vida breve, Of Love and Loss: Opera Scenes, The Ghosts of Versailles).

Briana Elyse Hunter

Mercedes

Jeff Byrnes

Dancairo

Baritone Jeff Byrnes returned to Michigan Opera Theatre last season as a Studio Artist. He performed the roles of Schanuard in La Bohème, 1st SS Officer in The Passenger, Old Servant in Elektra and The Bonze in Madame Butterfly. Prior to joining MOT, he performed the role of Owen Hart in Dead Man Walking with Dayton Opera, and he covered Germont in La Traviata and Balstrode in Peter Grimes with Des Moines Metro Opera. Other operatic highlights include Leporello in Don Giovanni and the title role in The Mikado with the Natchez Opera Festival, and Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte, and Pilate in St. John Passion with CCM Opera. He was a regional finalist in the Rocky Mountain Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions in 2014.

Jeff Byrnes

Dancairo

Joseph Michael Brent

Remendado

Joseph Michael Brent is an artist of Michigan Opera Theatre Studio. Last season he appeared as 3rd SS Officer in Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s The Passenger, Malcolm in Verdi’s Macbeth, and first armored man in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. In 2015, Mr. Brent made both role and company debuts as Mayor Upfold in the Bronx Opera’s production of Albert Herring and Edgardo in the New York Opera Exchange production of Lucia di Lamermoor. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Georgia in the fall of 2014 with a dissertation on selected vocal works of Giovanni Paolo Bottesini. He is a native New Yorker, a proud graduate of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, and holds an undergraduate degree from the conservatory of music at Purchase College S.U.N.Y. in double bass performance. He was a student of Metropolitan Opera baritone Frederick Burchinal.

Joseph Michael Brent

Remendado

See all artists

Collapse artists

Production Team

Valerio Galli

Conductor

Ron Daniels

Director

See all production members

Collapse production members

Synopsis

PDF Classroom guide for Carmen

PDF Playbill for Carmen

Carmen opens with a boisterous orchestral fanfare. The listener is taken on a thematic tour of the opera, in which three of the most famous and recognizable motives in the operatic repertoire are presented. Of particular interest is the structural regularity with which the first two musical phrases – the bullfight theme and Toréador theme – are juxtaposed with the irregularity and exoticism of the fate motive. These three motives reappear throughout the drama and by virtue of the prelude’s unresolved conclusion, subtly foreshadow the musical and dramatic conflicts to follow.

ACT I:
The scene opens on a hot and lazy morning in Séville. A chorus of disinterested soldiers, led by their commanding officer Morales, lament their mundane surroundings as the stand watch over a tobacco factory. In the midst of this chorus, Micaëla enters in search of her beau, the corporal Don José. Her inquires are met with flirtatious jests from Morales and the soldiers, but she manages to learn that José will arrive with the changing of the guard. She escapes their advances and promises to return when the guard is changed.

The trumpet is sounded and the fresh soldiers enter, followed by a sea of street boys, who childishly mock and imitate the guards. Don José is among them, with Lieutenant Zunigà. The noon bell rings and the cigarette girls, weary and sweated through, exit the factory and join the soldiers. The men express dismay that of all the unchaste women before them, the capricious “Carmencita” is not to be seen. No sooner has this hungry audience begged for their absent diva, than Carmen enters, singing her well-known “Habañera.” The “Habañera,” whether a genuine expression of Carmen’s attitude toward love or simply a Cabaret song, compares love to a rebellious bird and a gypsy child: it is evasive and powerful.

Micaela returns, interrupting the distracted José as he contemplates the flower he has just received from the bewitching Carmen. Along with a letter and some money, Micaëla gives José a kiss from his mother.

The momentary stillness is suddenly interrupted as screams from the cigarette girls fill the square. A fight has irrupted in the factory, and Don José is sent in to stop it. He returns with Carmen who is subsequently arrested.

It is important at this point to keep in mind Prosper Mérimée, whose short story was the basis for Meilhac and Halévy’s libretto. He states, “To the people of [Carmen’s] race, freedom is everything; they would set fire to a city to spare themselves a day in prison.” To this end, Carmen sings the sultry Seguidilla with the intention of convincing José to let her go. Though at first resistant, José – overpowered by Carmen’s persistence – succumbs to the possibility of symbiotic love with Carmen, and she is allowed to escape. For this insubordination, José is imprisoned.

ACT II: Two months later.
Lillias Pastia’s Tavern. In this place where all are equal and lawful mingles with lawless, Carmen, with Fraschita, and Mercedes sing a song of their people. Their subsequent wild dancing is interrupted by the crowds heralding Escamillo, famed toréo of Granada. His entrance is grand, ostentatious, and he thanks the crowd for their toasts in his name. What follows is a bold retelling of the pleasures of his profession. The crowds dissemble, following Escamillo. As the tavern empties, the gypsies are left to discuss their illicit business, singing a rhythmic and light-hearted quintet.

José is heard from off stage, approaching the tavern. He finds Carmen alone, and explains he has just been released from prison. He admits to still loving her, and, out of either gratitude, retribution, or genuine love, she fulfills her promise to dance with him at Lillias Pastia’s. But when the bugle calls, José tells her he must return to the barracks. Shocked that he would leave her to return to his duties, she accuses José of not truly loving her. José violently demands she understand the sacrifices he made in the name of love: the “Flower Song.” “No, you do not love me,” she replies, “If you did, you follow me to the mountains, and never have to depend on anyone else.” Liberty, and one’s own free will, is all important! José is unable to abandon his honor, and after unsuccessfully pleading with Carmen to stop her talk of desertion, he bids her farewell… forever! Yet before he can leave, Zuniga, who has returned to pursue his own lust for the unattainable Carmen, interrupts them. Thrown into a jealous rage, José disobeys Zuniga’s orders to return to camp, and they begin to fight. At Carmen’s command, the gypsies appear from all over and the fight is ended. Now, however, being guilty of his second grievous insurrection, José has no choice but to desert the military and join the band of gypsy smugglers as one of their compatriots.

ACT III: Six months later.
During the entr’acte, the smugglers enter carefully with their riches, José among them. Having set up camp, Frasquita, Mercedes, and Carmen settle in to read their fortunes in the cards. The fortunes reveal limitless riches and erotic love for the two woman, but imminent death for Carmen.

Meanwhile, Micaëla has climbed the mountain to the gypsy hideout in pursuit of José. She sings her honest and courageous aria “Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante” (“I say that nothing frightens me”) as she approaches the smuggler’s lair. Spotting José in the distance, she hides as he raises his gun and fires. His target is none other than the ever-confident Escamillo, who is nonplussed at having developed a fresh hole in his hat. When challenged as to his business there, Escamillo explains he has come for Carmen, and the encounter deteriorates into yet another fight.

Carmen and the other gypsies enter just in time to save Escamillo from José’s knife. Escamillo is convinced to leave, but not before inviting the smuggler’s, Carmen in particular, to see him fight in Seville. The angered José warns Carmen not to try his love and patience anymore. Before she can respond, Micaëla enters and begs José to return with her. At first he refuses, but she informs him of his mother’s immanent death, and he is forced to reluctantly agree. His departure, however, is not without one final warning to Carmen: they will meet again.

ACT IV: Several weeks later.
It is the day of the fight in Seville, and the crowd excitedly anticipates Escamillo’s arrival. At long last he appears, with the stunning Carmen by his side. They profess their love for one another, but all is not well, for Mercedes and Frasquita warn Carmen that José is in the crowd. Fully aware of the fate revealed to her by the taro cards, she nevertheless remains behind and encounters José. He makes a final and desperate attempt to convince her that their love is all that can save them both. Carmen is unmoved, and tempting her fate, responds that she cannot and will not love him any longer. Broken in spirit and seized by rage, José ends Carmen’s life. And with her death, the formal and musical conflicts left open at the end of the prelude come, finally, to a close.

By Joseph Michael Brent and Christopher Voss

 

Read more 

Read less 

Sponsors