Musical drama in two acts
Music Director and Conductor: Alexandru Samoilă
Conductor: Andrey Lebedev
Stage Director: Yuri Alexandrov
Set and Costume Designer: Vyacheslav Okunev
Choreographer: Nadezhda Kalinina
Lighting Designer: Sergey Skornetsky
Choirmaster: Yulia Senyukova
Running time: 3 hours 20 minutes with one intermission
Premiered on 19 February 2021
The most popular opera in the world is now at the Novaya Opera! We present the premiere of Carmen by Georges Bizet.
The Bizet opera is familiar even to those who have never been to an opera house, and probably everyone can hum the “Habanera” and the “Toreador Song”. However, the opera’s premiere in Paris (1875) was a failure: the audience left the hall without watching the performance to the end, and critics almost competed - who would write a more devastating review. The point is that the composer called his work a comic opera due to its ‘technical characteristics’: the heroes of serious operas were kings or gods, while the characters in Carmen are gypsies, smugglers, soldiers and factory workers. People expected to see an easy entertainment show but got a story full of ‘base’ passions and ending with the death of the main character!
A new version of the opera was premiered in Vienna the same year, a few months after the composer’s death, and the public began to change its opinion. Brahms and Wagner spoke highly of the opera, and Tchaikovsky learnt the piano score by heart. He wrote: “Carmen in my view is a chef d'oeuvre in the true sense of the word, that is one of those few works which are fated to reflect most intensively the musical tendencies of a whole age [...] I am convinced that within some ten years or so Carmen will be the most popular opera in the world!” A century and a half later, Bizet’s Carmen is still one of the most popular and frequently performed operas in the world’s major opera houses.
Composers, poets, impresarios and scientists have pondered over the secret of Carmen’s popularity. The most important reason is the stunningly bright music that conveys the sunny Spanish flavour but it does not annoy the listener with literal quotes from folklore. Indeed, in Bizet’s music it is not Spain as such that finds reflection, but the view of Bizet, a Frenchman, on it. One more reason is the universal questions posed in the plot. Should lovers belong only to each other? Is true love about letting the other be free? And what is the price of this freedom?
The stage director of the production is People’s Artist of Russia Yury Alexandrov, an old friend of the Novaya Opera. His productions have a lengthened run at our theatre. The music director of the production is the Novaya Opera’s Chief Conductor, People’s Artist of the Republic of Moldova Alexandru Samoilă. The set design, inspired by Antonio Gaudi’s works, and costumes will be created by People’s Artist of Russia Vyacheslav Okunev.