Met Opera production of Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ screens in Breckenridge | SummitDaily.com

Met Opera production of Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ screens in Breckenridge

Elmer Koneman
Special to the Daily

The high-definition screening of Georges Bizet's classic opera "Carmen" will be shown at the Finkel Auditorium at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge on Saturday, Nov. 1, starting at 10:55 a.m. A prologue and story review are scheduled for 10:30 a.m., presented by Cecile Forsberg, National Repertory Orchestra artistic and operations director, and Tim Pare, Lake Dillon Theatre Company director of education. An open discussion and question session will follow the conclusion of the opera.

"Carmen" features some of the most recognizable music in the opera repertoire. Musical and vocal excerpts have been used in several movies in the past. In fact, many of the tunes may be inadvertently sung or whistled by acquaintances that have little connection with opera. Indeed, well-known melodic excerpts of "Habanera" and "Toreador en Garde" are introduced in the orchestral prelude, along with a brief echoing of the fate motive in recognition of the fatal ending.

This production, directed by Richard Eyre, is described in a recent New York Times review as "gripping and brilliant." Georgian mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili sings and acts the title role of Carmen, the seductive gypsy. This same review cites Rachvelishvili's vocal power and "earthy sexuality" as being ideal for the role. Aleksandrs Antonenko sings the obsessed soldier Don Jose, soprano Anita Hartig makes her highly anticipated HD debut as Micaela and Ildar Abdrazakov is the toreador Escamillo. Of local interest is the role of the commanding military officer Zuniga, performed by Keith Miller, the well-known past University of Colorado football player, now scoring touchdowns with the Metropolitan Opera.

"Carmen" is one of the most melodic of all operas. Whether the vocal performances are in the form of solos, duets or choral ensembles, lilting melodies, accentuated with energetic orchestral interludes, under the baton of Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado are virtually continuous. Following the Metropolitan Opera premiere in 1884, "Carmen" has become its third most frequently performed opera after "La Boheme" and "Aida," with more than 900 performances on record. The current production, with its new premier staging, first performed in December 2009, is also highly acclaimed.

Of interest, Bizet, born in Paris in 1838 to musician parents, composed a one-act opera at the age of 19 after attending the Paris Conservatory of Music. In the following 37 years, he wrote six published operas, with his reputation resting on "Carmen," which premiered in March 1872, based on a short novel of the same name by Prosper Merimee. Don Jose and Carmen have many romantic encounters throughout the opera, including the final scene in which Don Jose attempts once more to gain the love of Carmen, and in which he stabs her to death after her vociferous rejection.

All attending this HD production will be absorbed in the story and the music. Experience scenes in the square in Seville (Act I); the gathering of the cigarette factory girls (including Carmen) in the Lillas Pastia's inn, where Escamillo sings his Toreador aria (Act II); the smugglers' mountain hideout (Act III); and finally, in Act IV, Seville's Plaza de Toros, where a crowd gathers for the bullfight hailing Escamillo and where Carmen is stabbed to death.

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Despite the tragic ending, most will depart humming or whistling one of the glorious melodies.

If you go

What: Georges Bizet’s “Carmen,” part of the 2014-15 “Met Opera: Live in HD” broadcast season

Where: The Finkel Auditorium at the Colorado Mountain College Breckenridge campus, 107 Denison Placer Ave., Breckenridge

When: 10:55 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 1; the National Repertory Orchestra and the Lake Dillon Theater Company’s “Opera Prologue and Epilogue” series begins at 10:30 a.m.

Cost: $20 for adults, $16 for seniors and Met Members and $10 for students and children

More information: Light snacks and beverages will be provided at intermission, donation requested. For ticket information and purchase, call the National Repertory Orchestra Office at (970) 453-5825. Ticket purchase may also be made online by visiting the NRO website at http://www.nromusic.com.