3 Apr 2018

Opera Hong Kong kicks off 15th anniversary programme with Carmen

Opera Hong Kong - Carmen set design

Love, lust and revenge will be the talk of the town this May, when Opera Hong Kong opens its 15th anniversary programme with a production of Georges Bizet’s classic opera Carmen.

Staged in conjunction with Le French May, Opera Hong Kong’s contemporary take on one of the most popular operas of all time will feature exceptional talent, both international and from Hong Kong, and will be performed on a set that rotates during each performance. Set in Seville around 1830, the eponymous and tragic Carmen is a gypsy cigarette factory worker who persuades soldier Don José to release her from custody through cunning manipulation. For her, he gives up everything, abandoning his post, career, family and childhood sweetheart Micaëla, only to be rebuffed when she makes clear her preference for bull-fighter Escamillo. Unable to cope with this rejection and Carmen’s refusal to comply with societal norms, Don José’s jealousy consumes him, and he stabs her to death in the final scene. Written in 1875, the opera was panned by critics – many believe the terrible response contributed to Bizet’s early death – but has become one of, if not the, most performed operas of all time, featuring one of the world’s best-known arias, Habanera, which has been featured countless times in popular culture, from a Doritos’ Super Bowl advert to Pixar’s Up.

Opera Hong Kong Carmen cast and conductor

Opera Hong Kong’s Carmen will be conducted by the notable Yves Abel (above, left), Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philarmonie, Germany, known internationally for leading at the Royal Opera House, La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera. With French director Jean-Romain Vesperini also taking the helm, this new production from Opera Hong Kong propels Carmen into the 21st century with an innovative nested rotating set and features renowned artists who have performed in leading opera houses around the world: Varduhi Abrahamyan (above, top right) and Marie Karall as Carmen; Jean-François Borras (above, bottom right) and Giancarlo Monsalve as Don José; and Vittorio Vitelli and Jean-Kristof Bouton as Escamillo. Joining them will be Colette Lam and Li Yang, participants of the Jockey Club Opera Hong Kong Young Artist Development Programme.

Opera Hong Kong - Carmen - Costume Sketch - Escamillo (1)
Costumes, such as this design for Escamillo, will align with the period in which Bizet set his classic opera

Carmen’s character and her absolute belief in her right to liberty in her life and love choices has made her character increasingly relatable and heroic with time. While the set and costumes will remain period in feel and intention, the direction of all the singers and the set design will be completely contemporary, allowing the audience to completely immerse themselves in harshness of the Sevillian environment and the variety of characters on stage.

Bizet’s Carmen will be performed in French with Chinese and English Surtitles. 16-20 May, 2018, Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Tickets from HKD150. Limited availability. For ticket details, please visit operahongkong.org/carmen.

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