Award-winning director Barrie Kosky provides a refreshing perspective on this well-known opera. He explores Carmen’s ever-changing nature – marked by her series of contrasting costumes – and her vitality through dance. The pre-recorded voice of a narrator (perhaps Carmen herself) ensures that we experience the whole story from her perspective, and the production’s unique performing edition (by Michael Rot) offers a chance for audience members to hear music Bizet omitted from the opera’s first performances.
Carmen had only lukewarm success at its 1875 premiere – perhaps due to its unconventional subject – but soon became immensely popular, and has remained so. Its glorious score boasts a host of wonderful melodies, including Carmen’s sensual Habanera and Seguidilla, Don José’s tender Flower Aria and Escamillo’s rousing Toreador’s Song. There are also passionate duologues, above all the intense, final confrontation between Carmen and Don José.