Detroit Opera House debut! Spain’s Compañía Nacional de Danza will perform Carmen, in choreographer Johan Inger’s reimagined version of Georges Bizet’s opera. This will be the only U.S. performance of Inger’s Carmen during the company’s North American tour. The staging is a contemporary look at Prosper Mérimée’s story of passion and vengeance as seen through the eyes of a child. “There is a certain mystery within this character,” states Inger. “It could be any kid, it could be Don José when he was a boy, it could be a young Micaëla or Carmen and José’s unborn child. It could even be ourselves, with our very first goodness wounded due to a violent experience that, though brief, has had a negative impact in our lives and our ability to interact with others forever.”
This production contains adult themes and is not suitable for children.
Johan Inger’s Carmen is a reimagined version of Georges Bizet’s opera that takes a contemporary look at Prosper Mérimée’s original 1845 story as seen through the eyes of a child. The music includes Rodion Shchedrin’s Carmen Suite, an arrangement of the Bizet original, plus additional electronic music by Marc Álvarez. Inger’s Carmen strips the story to its universal themes of love and passion, emphasizing the impact violence can have on those who witness it and on society as a whole. The world premiere of Compañía Nacional de Danza’s Carmen took place in 2015 at Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid, and earned Inger the Benois de la Danse prize in 2016.
“There is a certain mystery within this character,” says Inger. “It could be any kid, it could be Don José when he was a boy, it could be a young Micaela or Carmen and José’s unborn child. It could even be ourselves, with our very first goodness wounded due to a violent experience that, though brief, has had a negative impact in our lives and our ability to interact with others forever. The story witnessed through the eyes of a young watcher reveals the tale stripped to its mythic and universal elements of passion and violence.”
Bizet’s Carmen, first performed in 1875, tells the story of the downfall of soldier Don José and his obsession with the fiery femme fatale Carmen. It is one of the world’s most popular, frequently performed operas, with well-known arias ranging from Carmen’s “Habanera” to the “Toreador Song,” sung by the bullfighter Escamillo. Carmen has been adapted numerous times for multiple formats, including Otto Preminger’s 1954 film Carmen Jones, Peter Brook’s stage adaptation La Tragédie de Carmen (1983), Carmen on Ice (1990) with choreography for figure skaters, and the film Carmen: A Hip Hopera (2001) starring Beyoncé Knowles.
This Carmen emphasizes timelessness, a contemporary aesthetic with a subtle proximity to the 1960s: removed from stereotype and from the period that we normally associate with the story. Soldiers become corporate executives. The matador resembles a film or rock star. Seville can be anyplace, a tobacco factory any industry, and the mountains of Ronda as the mind of someone on the edge. The floor starts out light and ends darker; costumes in Act I are colorful, and in Act II greys and blacks predominate. Three prisms, moved by three dancers via the choreography, represent the universe depicted in Carmen—three are a crowd, three stir up jealousy, three, alas, flow into violence.
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