Boston, MA -- Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) kicks off its exciting 2009-2010 Season with a fresh take on an audience favorite: Bizet's passionate Carmen, which opens November 6 at the Citi Performing Arts CenterSM Shubert Theatre in Boston. "By re-introducing dialogue originally specified by the composer (the recitatives sometimes used were composed posthumously and not sanctioned by Bizet) and by streamlining the libretto and the scenery to showcase the central themes of the story, BLO intends to pay tribute to, and offer a unique interpretation of the composer's original vision," notes General & Artistic Director Esther Nelson. The Company anticipates this approach will catch the attention of both Carmen traditionalists and first-time audiences.
Along with this new approach, BLO is thrilled to introduce mezzo-soprano Dana Beth Miller (picture) to Boston audiences in her role debut. The New York Times heralded Ms. Miller's "rich, substantial voice, along with a winning stage presence." Opera Today applauded her "sizable and richly colored mezzo" and audiences across the country have embraced the control, finesse, power and emotion that she brings to each performance.
BLO's new production is directed by Nicholas Muni, designed by the Company's Artistic Advisor John Conklin, and conducted by Keith Lockhart. One of the most famous operas of all time, Carmen has become known for elaborate sets and massive crowd scenes that frame the fiery relationship between the two main characters, the soldier Don José and the gypsy Carmen. "Big, grand opera meets small, intense, passionate intrigue among four central characters," notes Mr. Muni. "By clearing out the unnecessary 'decoration,' we get to the heart of the story - an approach which is very much in tune with contemporary social trends. The scenery, costumes and lighting will be rich, large scale and to the point but beyond that, the detail will be in the performances of the singers ... and what is happening between the characters. This type of approach is only possible because of the intimacy of the Shubert Theater - which is very similar in size to the theater for which Bizet wrote the opera in the first place. That intimacy is a wonderful gift."
Mr. Conklin has worked closely with fellow designers Gabriel Berry (costumes) and Tom Hase (lighting) to exploring the nuances as well as the overall sweep of this great opera. "The piece itself is so rich in drama, in music, so infinite in its power to evoke joy, excitement and exhilaration in its creative team, performances, and audiences over and over again. We are deliberately keeping the period to the late 19th century--the period of its composition. That cultural milieu is an integral part of the psychological make up of the characters and is so vividly and unforgettably expressed in the music, it need not be duplicated in a literal way in the scenic environment."
A souvenir from the recent run of Jersey Boys at the Shubert will also influence dimension in BLO's production. The large black portal that completely covers the ornate white and gold columns that make up the familiar proscenium has a very compelling effect in breaking down the visual and psychological divide between the performers and the audience.
Bizet's Carmen: November 6, 8m, 11, 13, 15m, 17, 2009 at the Citi Performing Arts CenterSM Shubert Theatre. Sung in French with French dialogue and projected English translation. Carmen is co-sponsored by The Calderwood Charitable Foundation.