New concept for familiar piece at Edmonton Opera

Media contact: Cameron MacRae, senior manager, marketing
780-984-3634; cameron.macrae@edmontonopera.com

There may only be three performances of Carmen in Edmonton this winter, but Edmonton Opera staff have been living with the production for months.

The scenery and costumes for the production, set on the verge of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, were built locally, in Edmonton Opera's northside production facility.

This new concept for Carmen was envisioned by director Maria Lamont, scenery designer Camellia Koo, costume designer Deanna Finnman and lighting designer David Fraser, and it will be unveiled Jan. 30 at the Jubilee.

"Our mandate is to produce great performances that showcase the powerful emotions of opera, and in Edmonton, we're really lucky that we can do that from start to finish, with talented crews who can take an idea off the page and create what you see in front of you," said Tim Yakimec, general manager and artistic director of Edmonton Opera, adding that good costumes and scenery support the narrative created by the artists.

French mezzo-soprano Géraldine Chauvet embodies the fearless Carmen, while American tenor Jeffrey Gwaltney, singing opposite Chauvet as Don José, becomes entangled in the doomed relationship. Canadian baritone Gregory Dahl returns to Edmonton in the role of Escamillo, the dashing toreador who steals Camren away from José.

Georges Bizet didn't live long enough to see the success of Carmen. Arguably now the most famous opera in the world, its music, story and concept was considered revolutionary at the time of its premiere, 150 years ago. The political undertones, referring to the war of independence, are just as applicable to the civil war. 

"It is a classic boy-meets-girl story, but then he ruins his career for her, all while she meets a more handsome, successful boy," Yakimec said. "Underneath all that, the opera speaks to freedom, independence and individuality for a woman who absolutely cannot be pinned down and must be free, which was unheard of."

The media dress rehearsal for Carmen will be on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, at 7 p.m. Please RSVP your outlet's attendance to Cameron MacRae, senior manager, marketing, at 780-984-3634 or cameron.macrae@edmontonopera.com.

Carmen will be performed in French with projected English translation on Saturday, Jan. 30 (8 p.m.), Tuesday, Feb. 2 (7:30 p.m.) and Thursday, Feb. 4 (7:30 p.m.).

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