CREATED at the Opera-Comique, Paris, on 3 March 1875

MUSIC Georges Bizet
LIBRETTO Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy

Adrien Perruchon
CHOIR DIRECTOR Nicolas Chesneau
STAGE DIRECTOR Florentine Klepper
STAGE SETS Martina Segna
COSTUMES Adriane Westerbarkey
LIGHTING Bernd Purkrabek
VIDEO Heta Multanen

  • CAST 

    CARMEN Antoinette Dennefeld
    DON JOSÉ Georgy Vasiliev
    ESCAMILLO David Bizic
    MICAELA Elena Galitskaya
    FRASQUITA Norma Nahoun
    MERCÉDÈS Yete Queiroz
    DANCAÏRE Kaëlig Boché
    REMENDADO Enguerrand de Hys
    ZUNIGA Sévag Tachdjian
    MORALÈS Aimery Lefevre

It is hard to imagine today that Carmen, the most popular opera in the world, began as a fiasco. On the heels of its premiere in March 1876, the press clamoured for a ban on this "Castilian debauchery"… Indeed, Bizet and his librettists provided plenty of provocative material for a public raised in the traditional values of the Third Republic — habituated to attending the Opera-Comique for a bit of light entertainment where all’s well that ends well — by seeking their subject in the sulphurous new naturalism of Merimee: "Is she not killed by her lover? Death at the Opera-Comique! Unthinkable!" shrieked the theatre’s director when presented with the project. The librettists did little to ennoble the unscrupulous nature of Merimee’s characters, they are faithful to the situations and to the trajectory of the tragedy, which opposes the progressive and fatal jealousy of a young brigadier who becomes a brigand, and a Bohemian beauty who experiences love according to her pleasure and changes lovers at the whim of her heart. In a word: simplicity of ideas and clarity of motivations, for greater dramatic efficiency. To this seamless construction  — Carmen seduces, breaks and abandons Jose, who ends up killing her — is added a prodigious narrative trajectory where the slightest detail contributes to plunge the audience into the very heart of the story: the ingenious travelling narrative introduced by the secondary characters in the torpor of a lazy afternoon, the late appearance of Micaëla whose candour cannot hold a candle to Carmen’s first seductive glances to Jose, the bravura of Escamillo to Carmen after the initial weakness of Jose, who only seems all the more placid in her eyes, to finish with the murder under the joyous cheers of the crowd of the corrida, in a final scene worthy of the classic French film Les Enfants du Paradis. To this dramatic fabric tailored for the stage, Bizet responds with magisterial musical invention.

Whether it be in the steamy vapours that surround the cigarette girls, or the complex harmonic development that underpins the simplicity of the song of the Guard Mounting, in the evocation of a Spain as a dream more true than reality, in the infinitesimal dosage that imperceptibly goes from fairy tale to tragedy with total conviction, the composer blends a multitude of dramatic and musical intuitions and at every instant remains thoroughly convincing. 

Taking Mozart for an ideal model of balance, clarity and poise, he provides here a music that after more than a century of countless productions has still lost nothing of its freshness and spontaneity. To look at this tragedy, so anchored in the popular imagination, from a whole new angle is the challenge taken up by the German stage director Florentine Klepper, for whom this will be her first production in France.

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  • May 2019
    • Friday 17 at 20:00
    • Sunday 19 at 15:00
    • Tuesday 21 at 20:00
    • Thursday 23 at 20:00
    • Saturday 25 at 20:00
Price Opera
From 5,50€ to 65€
3h30 approximately intermission included

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