Pittsburgh Opera presents Bizet’s beloved CARMEN
Grand, traditional production
What: Georges Bizet’s opera CARMEN
Where: Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, Downtown Pittsburgh
When: Saturday, March 21, 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, 7:00 p.m.
Friday, March 27, 7:30 p.m.* Sunday, March 29, 2:00 p.m.
Run Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes, including 2 intermissions
Language: Sung in French with English texts projected above the stage
Tickets: Start at $12 for all performances.
Call 412-456-6666 for more information or visit pittsburghopera.org
Note: * 7:30 is the new start time for our Friday performances.
Related Brown Bag concert; Opera Up Close; WQED Preview;
Events: Meet the Artists; Audio Description. See page 5 of this release.
Pittsburgh, PA… Pittsburgh Opera continues its 76th season with a grand, traditional production of Georges Bizet’s beloved opera CARMEN. On stage at the Benedum Center March 21, 24, 27 and 29, CARMEN is one of the most-performed operas in the world, with a tuneful score (including the famous Habanera and Toreador Song), a heroine like no other, splashy arias and ensembles, and a sensational ending. Music Director Antony Walker conducts the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Tickets start at $12.
Based on the Prosper Mérimée novella that was considered too salacious for some 19th-century appetites, CARMEN marks the return of the sizzling Rinat Shaham (Don Giovanni, 2001) in the title role, and the debuts of A.J. Glueckert and Morgan Smith as the men who love her. Ms. Shaham has sung Carmen many times, earning praise from multiple publications, including Opera News: “The rich-voiced mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham…was a fascinating Carmen. Shaham fully embodied the character, seamlessly weaving the arias and duets into the dramatic action… Vocally, Shaham went from strength to strength… ” Morgan Smith, described by Opera News as possessing “good looks, striking intelligence, charismatic stage presence and a powerful baritone of mingled velvet and steel,” sang Escamillo recently in Vancouver, while A. J. Glueckert recently also won praise from Opera News for his portrayal of the Prince in Rusalka: “a gleaming, effortless tenor sound and he did not shy away from the high-lying vocal writing.”
CARMEN also calls for a large supporting cast, and the Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artists gain valuable stage experience in roles such as Don José’s sweetheart Micaëla (Jasmine Muhammad), gypsies Frasquita and Mercédès (Adelaide Boedecker and Corrie Stallings), and military officers Morales and Zuniga (Alex DeSocio and Phillip Gay). CARMEN adds to the grandeur with appearances by the Children’s Festival Chorus (complementing the Pittsburgh Opera Chorus) as well as supernumeraries as the townspeople of Seville. Director Marc Astafan makes his Pittsburgh Opera debut, bringing significant grand opera experience to his first Carmen, with multiple productions of La bohème, La traviata and Rigoletto in his resume.
Tickets to CARMEN start at $12, with all performances at the Benedum Center, 7th Street and Penn Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. For additional information, videos, photos, cast biographies, and the full story of CARMEN, visit www.pittsburghopera.org. To purchase tickets, call 412-456-6666 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org.
Three facts about CARMEN
- CARMEN was not particularly successful at first. It premiered at the Opéra Comique in Paris in 1875, and continued with just 35 additional performances. It was not until it was performed outside France for some years, that it was revived in Paris, and then gained tremendous popularity.
- Georges Bizet died at 36, during the first run of CARMEN, and never knew that his work would become one of the most frequently-performed operas in the world.
- CARMEN has inspired more than 70 films, according to a Newcastle University study. Many depart from the opera’s storyline, but all retain the broad themes of jealousy and thwarted love. The films range across languages and cultures, and have been created by prominent directors including Otto Preminger and Jean-Luc Godard. The film Carmen on Ice, starring Katarina Witt and Brian Boitano, was inspired by Witt’s gold medal-winning performance during the 1988 Winter Olympics. In 2001, Beyoncé Knowles starred in Robert Townsend’s Carmen: A Hip Hopera.
The story, in brief
In Seville by a cigarette factory, soldiers comment on the townspeople. Among them is Micaëla, a peasant girl, who asks about a corporal, Don José; he will return with the changing of the guard. The relief guard arrives soon, headed by Zuniga, and José learns that Micaëla has been looking for him. When the factory bell rings, the men of Seville gather to watch the female workers—especially the gypsy Carmen. She tells her admirers that love is free and obeys no rules. One man pays no attention to her: Don José. Carmen throws a flower at him, and the girls go back to work. José picks up the flower and hides it when Micaëla brings a letter from his mother. A fight erupts in the factory involving Carmen, and Zuniga sends José to retrieve the gypsy. Carmen refuses to answer Zuniga’s questions, and José is ordered to take her to prison. Left alone with him, she entices José with suggestions of a rendezvous at Lillas Pastia’s tavern. Mesmerized, he lets her get away. As they leave for prison, Carmen escapes, and Don José is arrested.
Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès entertain guests at the tavern. The bullfighter Escamillo enters, boasting about the pleasures of his profession, and flirts with Carmen, who tells him that she is involved with someone else. The tavern guests leave with Escamillo, and the smugglers Dancairo and Remendado explain their latest scheme to the women. Frasquita and Mercédès are willing to help, but Carmen refuses, because she is in love. The smugglers withdraw as José approaches. Carmen arouses his jealousy by telling him how she danced for Zuniga. She dances for José, but when a bugle call is heard, he says he must return to the barracks, and Carmen mocks him. To prove his love, José shows her the flower she threw at him and confesses how it helped him keep hope alive while he was in prison. She is unimpressed: if he really loved her, he would desert the army and join her in a life of freedom. José refuses, and Carmen tells him to leave. Zuniga bursts in, and in a jealous rage, José fights him. The smugglers return and disarm Zuniga. José now has no choice but to join them.
Carmen and José quarrel in the smugglers’ hideaway. She admits that her love is fading and advises him to return to his mother. When Frasquita and Mercédès tell their fortunes, they foresee love and riches for themselves, but Carmen’s cards spell death—for her and for José. A shot rings out: José has fired at an intruder, who turns out to be Escamillo. He tells José that he has come to find Carmen, and the two men fight. The smugglers separate them, and Escamillo invites everyone, Carmen in particular, to his next bullfight. When he has left, Micaëla appears and begs José to return home. He agrees when he learns that his mother is dying, but before he leaves, he warns Carmen that they will meet again.
Back in Seville, the crowd cheers the bullfighters on their way to the arena. Carmen arrives on Escamillo’s arm, and Frasquita and Mercédès warn her that José is nearby. Unafraid, she waits outside the entrance as the crowds enter the arena. José begs Carmen to forget the past and start a new life with him. She calmly tells him that their affair is over: she was born free and she will die free. The crowd is heard cheering Escamillo. José keeps trying to win Carmen back. She takes off his ring and throws it at his feet before heading for the arena. José stabs her to death.
Tickets to CARMEN start at $12, with all performances at the Benedum Center, 7th Street and Penn Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. For additional information, videos, photos, musical samples, cast biographies, and the full story of CARMEN, visit www.pittsburghopera.org. To purchase tickets, call 412-456-6666 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org.
Morales Alex DeSocio *
Micaëla Jasmine Muhammad *
Don José A. J. Glueckert +
Zuniga Phillip Gay *
Carmen Rinat Shaham
Frasquita Adelaide Boedecker *
Mercédès Corrie Stallings *
Lillas Pastia Peter Kope
Escamillo Morgan Smith +
Conductor Antony Walker
Director Marc Astafan
Set Designer Charles Allen Klein
Costume Designer James Schuette
Lighting Designer Andrew Ostrowski
Hair & Makeup Designer James Geier
Chorus Master Mark Trawka
Associate Coach/Pianist James Lesniak
+ Pittsburgh Opera debut
Tickets for all performances of CARMEN start at $12. Group discounts are available. For tickets, call (412) 456-6666 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org. For discounted group tickets (6 or more), contact Randy Adams at 412-281-0912, x 213.
Brown Bag Concert, “En Français (In French)”
Saturday, March 7 – 12:00 p.m.
At the March Brown Bag concert, our Resident Artists celebrate the French language with selections from Carmen, The Pearl Fishers, Faust, and more. These casual, one-hour concerts feature our Resident Artists in the George R. White Opera Studio at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters. Guests can meet the performers after the concert. Free and open to everyone; no RSVP required. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. For more information, call (412) 281-0912 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org
Opera Up Close: CARMEN
Sunday, March 8 – 2:00 p.m.
George R. White Opera Studio, Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters (2425 Liberty Ave.) Opera Up Close: CARMEN includes an in-depth analysis of the opera, with directors and artists from the production. Admission is $5; free to members of FRIENDS of Pittsburgh Opera and $50+ donors. For more information, call (412) 281-0912 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org.
CARMEN Previews on WQED-FM 89.3 and WQED.ORG
Saturday, March 14 – 12:30 p.m.; Friday, March 20 – 7:00 p.m.
Hosted by WQED’s Stephen Baum and Anna Singer, and broadcast over the airwaves as well as the WQED website, the CARMEN preview gives listeners an engaging introduction to the singers, music and story of the opera. For more information, visit www.pittsburghopera.org.
Audio Description: CARMEN
Tuesday, March 24
Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters
Ticketholders with visual impairments are invited to use Pittsburgh Opera’s Audio
Description service at our Tuesday performances. Trained volunteers describe the scenery, costumes, and stage action via headphones. Those wishing to use Audio Description should reserve seats to the Tuesday, March 24 performance: contact Randy Adams at 412-281-0912, ext. 213 or [email protected]. Braille and large-print programs are also available.
Tuesday, March 24
Immediately following the opera, in the performance space
Ticketholders for the Tuesday, March 24 performance of CARMEN are invited to gather in the performance space immediately following the performance for interviews with General Director Christopher Hahn and the stars of the opera. This event is free to all Tuesday performance ticketholders.
Pittsburgh Opera celebrates its 76th season in 2014-15. Established by five intrepid women in 1939, Pittsburgh Opera is viewed as one of the most vibrant opera organizations in the U.S., with a rich artistic tradition, outstanding educational programs, an acclaimed artist training program, and a progressive outlook toward the future. Its green initiative culminated in LEED® Silver certification for its Strip District headquarters, and its capacity as a true community partner has increased significantly under General Director Christopher Hahn’s leadership.
GRAND & GLORIOUS •• October 18, 2014
OTELLO •• November 8 – 16, 2014
CARMEN •• January 24 – February 1, 2015
SECOND STAGE PROJECT: CARMEN •• February 21 – March 1, 2015
CARMEN •• March 21 – 29, 2015
DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT •• May 2-10, 2015