Free she was born and free she will die. This sometime cigar-maker, sometime smuggler with something of the sorceress about her is often in love – as capable of making a deserter of the sergeant Don José as she is of wooing the toreador, Escamillo. She is the ally of love – that rebellious bird and gypsy’s child she resembles so much. Her first name: Carmen. Around these two syllables Prosper Mérimée built a novella that Georges Bizet used to create a character that his opera would turn into a myth: that of a free woman who heeds her desires without worrying about propriety, and who is condemned to end up stabbed to death by a deserter consumed by passion. But a myth is open to an infinite number of possible readings. Although it has become the most popular opera in the world, Carmen – like any universal masterpiece – can still benefit from an innovative approach. Visionary director Dmitri Tcherniakov’s take on it promises some strong emotions as, like Mérimée, he shows us Carmen through the eyes of José. And against the dizzying vortex created by the meticulous direction, under the baton of an unbridled Pablo Heras-Casado, the eternal dance of love-unto-death plays out once more.
L’amour est loin, tu peux l’attendre ;
tu ne l’attends plus, il est là !
Love is far away, you can wait for it: if you wait for it no more, it is there!
Opera in four acts
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy adapted from the short story by Prosper Merimee
First performed on 3rd March 1875 at the Opera-Comique, Paris
Spoken dialogues rewritten bt Dmitri Tcherniakov