Cigarettes and wild women!
Special to Prospector
KNOW & GO
WHO: The Del Oro Theatre in partnership with Music in the Mountains and InConcert Sierra
WHAT: The Metropolitan Opera, LIVE in HD - CARMEN
WHEN: 9:55 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 1
WHERE: The Del Oro Theatre, 165 Mill Street, Grass Valley
TICKETS: $22 Adults, $20 Seniors, $15 Children 12 and under & students with ID; Available online at http://www.sierratheaters.com/metopera or at the Del Oro Box Office
INFO: http://www.sierratheaters.com, 530-477-1100
This Saturday at Grass Valley’s Del Oro Theatre, Sierra Theaters presents Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” as the latest offering of The Met Opera Live in HD.
Initially greeted with indifference and disdain by the Parisian premier audience of 1875, “Carmen” soon after became the enduring triumph that it has remained to this day. Imagine, women smoking cigarettes onstage! Implied illicit liaisons outside of marriage! A strong central female character maintaining her sexual independence and freedom of choice! Shocking developments at the opéra comique for an opera that anticipated the verismo movement yet to come from Italy. “Carmen” is an immensely engaging, dramatically successful, masterfully orchestrated work. The story is simple: naïve mama’s boy young soldier falls for seductive gypsy, abandons the woman who truly loves him, deserts his post, suffers rejection, exacts revenge. The libretto is adapted from Prosper Mérimée’s novella of the same name. Depictions of exotic locales and cultures were the stuff of opera, and indeed all the arts, in the Late Romantic period. Gypsy life had long held a fascination for the European bourgeoisie, and the opera’s barely civilized Spain of Seville with its cigarette factory and bullfights eventually proved irresistible.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming success of the opera came too late for the composer. Said to be devastated by the apparent failure of “Carmen,” Bizet fell into a rapid decline from which the 36-year-old composer never recovered. The accolades arrived shortly after the funeral. The opera as written proved even more revolutionary than is generally heard today, for rather than composing recitatives, that speech/song amalgam that is the standard operatic representation of dialogue, Bizet penned spoken dialogue. Think American musical theatre. This proved too unconventional for the time, and other composers have created recitatives for various productions. Today the opera is either performed with the recitatives exclusively or with some spoken dialogue.
The Met production is sure to dazzle. Even if you have avoided opera, you will recognize both the Habanera and the Toreador Song as each has deeply permeated the culture. This is a good one for aficionados to drag their opera-phobic friends to; it’s tuneful and never drags. And the “bad girl” at the center of it all is utterly compelling.
John Deaderick is a local theater instructor, director, actor, and the author of “Make Sweet the Minds of Men: Early Opera and Tragic Catharsis,” available at Amazon.com.
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