Composed by Georges Bizet
Carmen is a French opéra comique by Georges Bizet who died of a heart attack at the young age of 37, on 3 June 1875, never knowing how popular Carmen would become. The libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, is based on the novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée, first published in 1845, itself influenced by the narrative poem “The Gypsy” (1824) by Alexander Pushkin.
Carmen Cast Members
Hungarian mezzo soprano Viktoria Vizin has been hailed by critics as a "ravishing Carmen." Miss Vizin attended Franz Liszt Conservatory and won the International Singing Competition "Nicolae Bretan" in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. She debuted as Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and completed her Master’s and Ph.D. in vocal studies in Romania in 1996.
2009 “Operalia” prize-winning Polish tenor Arnold Rutkowski has attained major operatic success on both sides of the Atlantic. He received the Viennese Public Prize for “Best Singer” at the Klassikmania Competition in Vienna this year in concerts dedicated to the memory of the late Jan Kiepura. He was invited to perform with Placido Domingo at the Lodz Opera House in Poland this year and also debuted in Teatro Luciano Pavarotti di Modena, Teatro di Ferrara, Teatro Alghieri di Ravenna, Teatro de la Opera in Italy, and in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
New Mexico baritone, Carlos Archuleta, is a versatile and exciting young star that is at home singing the diverse works of Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, and Puccini and those of contemporary composers such as Adams and Adamo. He has performed with many notable companies including Washington National Opera as Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore, Count di Luna in Il Trovatore and Nogales in Luisa Fernanda, Dallas Opera as Uncle Salvaor in De Falla’s La Vida Breve, Orlando Opera as Silvio in I Pagliacci, and as Baritone Soloist in Carmina Burana.
Soprano, Jennifer Nagy, has appeared as a guest artist with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony, the Mesa Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony, the Phoenix Bach Choir, the Sierra Vista Symphony, the Flagstaff Symphony and Chamber Music Plus Southwest and is a frequent featured soloist for works such as Handel’s Messiah, the Brahms’ A German Requiem, Poulenc’s Gloria, Rutter’s Requiem and Magnificat, and Mozart’s Coronation Mass.
Bass-baritone and native New Yorker, Earl Hazell, is a creative artist and Renaissance man whose multi-faceted career encompasses opera, literature, and modern jazz on the world stage. He has performed with the New York Philharmonic including their landmark performance of Britten’s War Requiem under Kurt Masur in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Beethoven Ninth Symphony under Zubin Mehta at the United Nations in Manhattan, Beethoven Choral Fantasy with pianist Alfred Brendel and conductor James Levine for the One Hundredth Anniversary of Carnegie Hall.
Baritone, Christopher Holmes, is enthusiastically described as a “powerful, melodious baritone” with “soul and passion.” His outstanding musicality and affinity for opera is reflected in his work as the Captain in Bernstein’s Candide, Demetrius in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Top in Copland’s The Tender Land, and Vernon in Hoiby’s Summer and Smoke while covering the role of John Buchanan.
Anna-Lisa Hackett (Frasquita)
Emerging young soprano, Anna-Lisa Hackett, received a Bachelor of Music, Vocal Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and currently studies voice with Gail Dubinbaum Massaro, Creative Director of the Phoenix Opera. Miss Hackett has won several voice competitions and was a featured soloist with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Nicholas McGegan. She has sung with the Eastman Opera Theater, Minnesota Opera, and the Oberlin in Italy Program.
Mezzo soprano, Katie Davidson, received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Grand Canyon University. Her operatic roles include portrayals of the Sorceress in Dido and Aeneas for NAU Opera Theatre, Katisha in The Mikado and Erika in Vanessa for Ethington Memorial Theatre. In 2006, Miss Davidson made her European debut in Mozart’s Regina Coeli as the alto soloist in Prague, Ceske Budejovice, and the historic Karlskirche Cathedral in Vienna.
Bass-baritone, Jeffrey Stevens, loves to make people laugh and is frequently cast as a buffo or character singer in funny roles that demand a good sense of timing. He’s been cast in the roles of: Melchior, Antonio, Alfred P. Doolittle, Major General, Mikado, Sacristan, Dr. Grenvil, Benoit/Alcindoro and Sir Joseph, and most recently in Phoenix Opera’s productions of La Bohème, Tosca, and Aïda.
Baritone, Beau Heckman, is often cast as a comedic singer in roles that demand a good sense of humor and great timing. He most recently appeared in Les Miserables and The Producers for Phoenix Theatre.
Lyric tenor, Isaac Hurtado, has been described as “polished and elegant” with “money-notes that are worth every penny.” He is noted for his “wonderful acting” ability, “movie star good looks,” and critically acclaimed portrayals of Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Werther in Werther, Duke in Rigoletto, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Lt. Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Alfredo in La Traviata, and Roméo in Roméo et Juliette.
In a town square in Seville, soldiers and townspeople are gathered chatting and moving about, when a young peasant girl name Micaela questions the soldiers about her love, Don José. The soldiers try to persuade the young girl to stay with them until Don José returns, but she declines and leaves. Soon, Don José arrives moments before the cigarette factory bell rings and a group of women, including the beautiful gypsy, Carmen, exit the building. The soldiers flirt with the girls and ask Carmen when she will love them. Her reply is given in the famous aria, “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” – the Habanera. When Carmen sees Don José, she tosses a flower in front of him to seduce him. Don José picks up the flower and becomes enchanted by the beautiful Carmen. Shortly thereafter, Micaela returns with a letter and a kiss sent to Don José by his mother. In the letter, Don José’s mother has asked him to marry Micaela. Don José promises his fidelity and love to Micaela and moments later, a fight breaks out at the cigarette factory between Carmen and another woman. Carmen injures the woman before she is captured by Officer Zuniga who commands Don José to escort Carmen to prison. Carmen charms Don José into letting her escape and when Zungia hears of this, he throws Don José into jail for one month’s time.
At Lillas Pastia’s Inn, Carmen and her friends, Mercedes and Frasquita, are socializing with several soldiers including Officer Zuniga, when the victorious bullfighter, Escamillo, arrives with a celebrating entourage. During the Toreador song, “Votre toast, je peux vos le rendre”, Escamillo attempts to capture Carmen’s heart. His attempts are unsuccessful, as are Officer Zuniga’s, who tells Carmen that he will return to the inn later to meet with her … but Carmen’s heart pines for Don José’s release from prison. A while later, once the crowd has dispersed the smugglers, Le Dancaire and Le Remendado, ask for help from Carmen and her two friends. Mercedes and Frasquita agree to help, but Carmen refuses as she knows that Don José will be released from prison that day and meet her at the inn. When he finally arrives, Carmen dances for him, but her dance is cut short when a bugle sounds in the distance, signaling Don José to return home. Carmen The Story of Carmen, cont. mocks his obedience and tries to persuade him to remain with her and live the gypsy life, but Don José does not give in until Zuniga arrives at the inn. He orders Don José to leave, but in a fit of jealousy, he defies Zungia’s orders. Le Dancaire and Le Remendado tackle Zuniga and take him away from the inn. Don José, feeling as if he now has no other choice, stays at the inn with Carmen.
Don José, now at the smuggler’s hideout in the mountains, begins to reminisce about his former home and his mother and starts missing them dearly. Carmen, who has decided she no longer loves him, takes notice and starts taunting him to leave, but he does not. Mercedes and Frasquita tell their fortunes with a deck of cards. For the two girls, the cards reveal a life of wealth, love, and luxury. For Carmen and Don José, they reveal death. The smugglers and the girls leave, while Don José watches over the hideout. Soon, Micaela, assisted by a guide, comes to the mountain hideout and hides behind a mound of rocks when she hears a gunshot fired by Escamillo. Escamillo enters the hideout and begins telling Don José about his crush on Carmen. He also tells Don José about Carmen’s relationship with a soldier, not knowing the story is actually about Don José. Don José becomes very angry and starts fighting Escamillo. The smugglers return before the fight gets worse. Escamillo invites Carmen and the others to his upcoming bullfight as he leaves the hideout. Micaela finally emerges from her hiding spot and tries to convince Don José to return home during the aria “Je dis, que rien ne m’épouvante.” After several unsuccessful attempts, she finally persuades him to leave by telling him his beloved mother is dying. Don José promises Carmen will return to her and leaves with Micaela. In the distance, Escamillo can be heard singing and Carmen begins heading in that direction.
During the procession of the toreadors, Carmen and Escamillo are seen arriving together. Mercedes and Frasquita warn Carmen that Don José is lurking around the crowd plotting to kill her. She tells them that she will find him and resolve the matter once and for all. While Escamillo enters the bullfighting ring, a desperate Don José meets Carmen outside the arena. He demands her to commit her love and fidelity to him, but she declares she no longer loves him and throws the ring he gave her to the ground. Enraged, Don José, stabs Carmen in the heart as Escamillo is cheered in the arena to the chorus of the “Toreador Song,” and Carmen dies. Don José kneels in despair beside her. As spectators leave the arena, Don José confesses his guilt over her dead body.
© Copyright OPERA NEWS 2007. Reprinted with permission