‘Carmen’ a dramatic tale from the days when operas were blockbusters

By Chrisy Trudeau, Epoch Times
September 5, 2013 Updated: September 5, 2013

Opera was the pop culture phenomena of its time and people of all social classes attended to see superstar performances by creators like Mozart, a certified rock star.

It’s a long fall to the days of Miley Cyrus’s twerking, but even the refined art of opera, which includes acting, dance, singing, and symphony music, had scandals of its own.

“Carmen” was one of them.

The passionate tale of love and revenge wasn’t a blockbuster upon release. “Carmen” struggled, as French audiences were somewhat shocked by the themes and depictions. But it gained renown outside France where audiences appreciated the dark provocative tale, making it one of the first cult classics.

Opera Lyra Ottawa’s (OLO) rendition of “Carmen” has all of the ingredients of a sordid Hollywood tale: drama, love, sex, deceit, and a murder.

“What’s not to love?” asked David Pomeroy, who plays the male lead, Don José.

“Carmen” has become one of the most famous historical operas of all time because it attracts everybody, says Pomeroy.

The opera is the story of a gypsy girl named Carmen who seduces a soldier trying to mend his broken past. She lures him away from his official duties and his childhood love.

Shortly after, Carmen, who cares only for her own freedom and follows only her own heart, falls in love with another man, leaving Don José heartbroken, jealous, and filled with a rage that brings the story to its tragic end.

Pomeroy and fellow singer Arminè Kassabian, who plays Carmen’s gypsy friend, Mercédès, agree that if you have never seen an opera, “Carmen” is a great place to start.

“‘Carmen’ is just so gorgeous, it’s sexy, the music is sensual, and the characters are beautiful. I think it’s an opera that people can relate to whether they are a connoisseur or not, since it has all the emotions that relate to human nature. Of course most of us are not that crazy in real life,” said Kassabian.

While the tale may be unfamiliar, Pomeroy said audiences will likely recognize the world-famous and popular music in “Carmen.”

Just the word “opera” is enough to scare some people off, but with the combination of art forms it brings together, that should not be the case, argues Pomeroy

OLO landed famous stage director Bernard Uzan, the creator of over 370 opera productions around the world. Beautiful and unusually young opera talent Alessandra Volpe from Italy will play the role of Carmen.

And modern technology means audiences won’t have to speak French to follow the plot, thanks to helpful “surtitles” projected onto a backdrop.

The show will run Sept. 7, 9, 11, and 14 at the National Art Centre with ticket prices starting at $25.

Visit www.operalyra.ca for more information.