Bizet's Carmen

Núria Espert (stage director), Zubin Mehta (conductor) – With Maria Ewing, Luis Lima and Leontina Vaduva – Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

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Núria Espert — Stage director

Gerardo Vera — Set designer

Bruno Boyer — Lighting

Franca Squarciapino — Costumes

Maria Ewing — Carmen

Luis Lima — Don José

Leontina Vaduva — Micaëla

Gino Quilico — Escamillo

Judith Howarth — Frasquita

Jean Rigby — Mercedes

Roderick Earle — Zuniga

Christopher Booth-Jones — Morales

Jean-Pierre Blanchard — Andres

Bruno Caproni — Dancaïro

Francis Egerton — Remendado

Daniel Pageon — Lillas Pastia

Program notes

Bizet's masterwork, Carmen, directed for stage by the Spanish actress Núria Espert.

Carmen is certainly one of the world's most popular operas. The overture, the famous habanera "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle," to name but a few, are universally well-known scores; and rightly so, as the colorful and vibrant music composed by Bizet recreates brilliantly the intense and sensuous atmosphere of the 19th century Spain. The outstanding production by the Spanish stage director and actress Núria Espert lets the spectator enjoy once again the hymn to passion and freedom.

Carmen by Bizet: the story.

Carmen, a gypsy girl, has set her heart on Don José, a corporal of dragoons already engaged with Micaëla. Carmen and Micaëla have an argument. Carmen is caught by Zuniga, the Lieutenant of the dragoons, who asks Don José to carry Carmen to prison. Under the spell of the beautiful gypsy girl, Don José sets Carmen free. In a tavern a few months later, Zuniga and the toreador Escamillo try to seduce Carmen. She turns them away. Don José walks into the tavern and declares his undying love to the young gypsy girl. Carmen asks him to follow her through the mountain with the smugglers as a proof of his love. Impossible! His military honor impedes him from doing such a thing. Zuniga, abusing of his authority, tries to push Don José out of the way in order to seduce Carmen. The two men fight a duel. Don José wins over his superior, and has no choice but to accept to follow Carmen in the mountains. Carmen neglects her lover Don José, who starts to feel jealous. During a bullfight in Sevilla, the toreador Escamillo appears with the radiant Carmen next to him. Desperate, Don José asks her to get back to him. In a fit of madness, he kills Carmen, his beloved.

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