Carmen COC banner

Carmen

Georges Bizet
To

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Performance Length: 3 hours, including one intermission


#CarmenCOC


What makes Carmen so special?

A searing portrait of a woman who is desired by everyone — but her only desire is to be free. The music is full of blazing melodies and famous arias that have made Carmen a beloved blockbuster.

A fiercely independent woman becomes ensnared in a high-stakes game among garrison soldiers, smugglers, and a superstar bullfighter, culminating in a deadly clash of passion and jealousy.

Our classic production transports audiences to a sun-drenched setting of bustling street scenes, outlaw hideaways, and a fateful climax that crackles with electricity.


“Electric and exciting.”

– The Globe and Mail


Credits
Sung in French with English SURTITLESTM



CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM

Conductor: Johannes Debus
Director: Joel Ivany
Set Designer: Michael Yeargan
Costume Designer: François St-Aubin
Lighting Designer: Jason Hand
Price Family Chorus Master: Sandra Horst

Carmen: J’Nai Bridges
Don José: Michael Fabiano
Micaëla: Joyce El-Khoury
Escamillo: Adam Palka
Zuniga: Alain Coulombe
Moralès: Jonah Spungin
Frasquita: Anna-Sophie Neher
Mercédès: Jamie Groote
Le Dancaïre: Jonah Spungin
Le Remendado: Jean-Philippe Lazure   

With the COC Orchestra and Chorus

COC production



Director Joel Ivany

The Story

Plot in a Minute 

Carmen is a seductive, freedom-loving woman, desired by many. She takes Don José, a young soldier, as her latest lover, who defects from the army to join her in her smuggling life. But when she spurns him for the dashing toreador Escamillo, Don José cannot accept her rejection…to fatal consequences.


Synopsis

ACT I

Micaëla, a young peasant girl, is searching for her beloved, the soldier Don José. During the changing of the guard, a group of women take a break from their work at a cigar factory. One of them, Carmen, has many admirers but she tries to attract the attention of Don José who remains indifferent to her, despite the flower she has tossed at him. A short time later, the beautiful Carmen is arrested following a fracas with another factory worker, and Don José is assigned to arrest her. Falling under her spell, the corporal allows her to escape, landing him in jail for two months.

ACT II

Carmen and her friends gather at a tavern, when a passing parade celebrates the victorious bullfighter, Escamillo. Zuniga, Don José’s lieutenant who is in love with Carmen too, tells Carmen that Don José has been released from jail.  Don José soon arrives at the tavern and Carmen demands that he give up his commission and follow her into the mountains with the smugglers. Meanwhile, Zuniga has caught up with Don José and tries to convince the corporal to come home with him. Don José, torn between duty and desire and jealous of Zuniga’s affection for Carmen, picks a fight with Zuniga. In the end, he has no choice but to desert his company and flee into the mountains with Carmen and the band of smugglers.


INTERMISSION


ACT III

As the smugglers move through the mountains, Carmen becomes fed up with her lover’s possessive and controlling behaviour. Escamillo, who has followed them in search of Carmen, arrives. A fight ensues between Don José and Escamillo but is interrupted by Micaëla who has come to tell Don José that his mother is dying. Micaëla and Don José leave together.

ACT IV

On the day of the great bullfight, Carmen and Escamillo swear their love to each other. A haggard Don José appears at the arena and begs, then demands, Carmen to return to him, but she refuses. Don José, in despair, charges at Carmen, stabbing her. She dies as the crowd cheers the toreador in the corrida.

PHOTOS



(Top to bottom):

Simone Osborne as Micaëla and Russell Thomas as Don José in Carmen (COC, 2016), photo: Michael Cooper

Anita Rachvelishvili as Carmen in Carmen (COC, 2016), photo: Michael Cooper

Christian Van Horn as Escamillo (centre) in Carmen (COC, 2016), photo: Michael Cooper

Listen



Bizet’s Carmen. Claudio Abbado, conductor, with the London Symphony Orchetra, 1978. Deutsche Grammaphon

The Creators

GEORGES BIZET (1838 – 1875)

Composer

Although he was an exceptionally talented musician, and his opera Carmen is one of the most popular in the world, composer Georges Bizet did not have an easy life… or a long one. Born into a musical family, he enjoyed early success as a pianist and composer, entering the Paris Conservatoire before his 10th birthday and composing his Symphony in C at the age of 17. Bizet suffered from ill health and depression through most of his life, and a short stint in the army weakened him further. After early success with Le Docteur Miracle (1857), he had only moderate success with operas such as The Pearl Fishers (1863) and La jolie fille de Perth (1867).

Carmen (1875) became Bizet’s greatest achievement, a culmination of his life and work. He used the music to drive the drama and action instead of just relying on the spoken dialogue in between to achieve the same result. In Carmen, the emotions of real people were powerfully expressed, marking the work as a strong precursor to verismo (realistic) opera. However, the initial reaction to Carmen was negative. Bizet returned dejected to his family home and died of a heart attack at the age of 36. Later that same year, in Vienna, Carmen triumphed and in subsequent years would premiere all over the world, including debuting in Toronto in 1879. Tchaikovsky, who saw the opera in 1876, predicted that Carmen would be the world’s most popular opera and it continues to be one of the most performed operas in the world.

HENRI MEILHAC (1831 – 1897) and LUDOVIC HALÉVY (1834 – 1908)

Librettists

Carmen's success can be attributed as much to the work of the duo who wrote the libretto (script) as it can be to Bizet’s music.

Before his career as a librettist took off, Henri Meilhac worked in a bookshop, and as a cartoonist and writer for newspapers in Paris. He was known for his vivacious and witty style. In 1856 he wrote the libretto for a one-act musical comedy called La Sarabande du cardinal. From then on Meilhac wrote exclusively for the theatre, eventually producing 115 works.

Ludovic Halévy grew up in the theatre. Both his father and uncle worked in the industry and Halévy was a regular at rehearsals and performances on Parisian stages. In 1852 Halévy became a civil servant, rising to the rank of secrétaire-rédacteur (writer/editor) to the the French Legislature. In 1856 he met Jacques Offenbach, then a struggling composer, who invited him to join his newly formed theatre and for whom he wrote many librettos, including Orphée aux enfers (1858).

In 1860, Halevy was commissioned to co-author a libretto but part way through the project, the second librettist left abruptly. Halévy needed to finish the contract, and was at a loss for a partner to help. He bumped into Meilhac outside the theatre and even though they weren’t well acquainted, Halévy offered him the job. This fortuitous meeting resulted in a fruitful partnership that lasted over 20 years, with Meilhac writing the dialogue and Halévy the lyrics. Together they wrote for several composers, most notably for Jacques Offenbach, providing librettos for La Belle Hélène (1864), La Vie parisienne (1866), La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (1867) and La Périchole (1868). However in writing the libretto for Bizet’s Carmen, they achieved their most notable success.

PERFORMANCE DATES

Carmen (January 23 – February 21, 2021)

Saturday, January 23, 2021 | 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 28, 2021 | 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 31, 2021 | 2 p.m.
Sunday, February 7, 2021 | 2 p.m.
Tuesday, February 9, 2021 | 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 13, 2021 | 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 | 7:30 p.m.
Friday, February 19, 2021 | 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 21, 2021 | 2 p.m.

  • Sung in French with English SURTITLESTM



    CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM

    Conductor: Johannes Debus
    Director: Joel Ivany
    Set Designer: Michael Yeargan
    Costume Designer: François St-Aubin
    Lighting Designer: Jason Hand
    Price Family Chorus Master: Sandra Horst

    Carmen: J’Nai Bridges
    Don José: Michael Fabiano
    Micaëla: Joyce El-Khoury
    Escamillo: Adam Palka
    Zuniga: Alain Coulombe
    Moralès: Jonah Spungin
    Frasquita: Anna-Sophie Neher
    Mercédès: Jamie Groote
    Le Dancaïre: Jonah Spungin
    Le Remendado: Jean-Philippe Lazure   

    With the COC Orchestra and Chorus

    COC production



    Director Joel Ivany
  • Plot in a Minute 

    Carmen is a seductive, freedom-loving woman, desired by many. She takes Don José, a young soldier, as her latest lover, who defects from the army to join her in her smuggling life. But when she spurns him for the dashing toreador Escamillo, Don José cannot accept her rejection…to fatal consequences.


    Synopsis

    ACT I

    Micaëla, a young peasant girl, is searching for her beloved, the soldier Don José. During the changing of the guard, a group of women take a break from their work at a cigar factory. One of them, Carmen, has many admirers but she tries to attract the attention of Don José who remains indifferent to her, despite the flower she has tossed at him. A short time later, the beautiful Carmen is arrested following a fracas with another factory worker, and Don José is assigned to arrest her. Falling under her spell, the corporal allows her to escape, landing him in jail for two months.

    ACT II

    Carmen and her friends gather at a tavern, when a passing parade celebrates the victorious bullfighter, Escamillo. Zuniga, Don José’s lieutenant who is in love with Carmen too, tells Carmen that Don José has been released from jail.  Don José soon arrives at the tavern and Carmen demands that he give up his commission and follow her into the mountains with the smugglers. Meanwhile, Zuniga has caught up with Don José and tries to convince the corporal to come home with him. Don José, torn between duty and desire and jealous of Zuniga’s affection for Carmen, picks a fight with Zuniga. In the end, he has no choice but to desert his company and flee into the mountains with Carmen and the band of smugglers.


    INTERMISSION


    ACT III

    As the smugglers move through the mountains, Carmen becomes fed up with her lover’s possessive and controlling behaviour. Escamillo, who has followed them in search of Carmen, arrives. A fight ensues between Don José and Escamillo but is interrupted by Micaëla who has come to tell Don José that his mother is dying. Micaëla and Don José leave together.

    ACT IV

    On the day of the great bullfight, Carmen and Escamillo swear their love to each other. A haggard Don José appears at the arena and begs, then demands, Carmen to return to him, but she refuses. Don José, in despair, charges at Carmen, stabbing her. She dies as the crowd cheers the toreador in the corrida.




  • (Top to bottom):

    Simone Osborne as Micaëla and Russell Thomas as Don José in Carmen (COC, 2016), photo: Michael Cooper

    Anita Rachvelishvili as Carmen in Carmen (COC, 2016), photo: Michael Cooper

    Christian Van Horn as Escamillo (centre) in Carmen (COC, 2016), photo: Michael Cooper




  • Bizet’s Carmen. Claudio Abbado, conductor, with the London Symphony Orchetra, 1978. Deutsche Grammaphon

  • GEORGES BIZET (1838 – 1875)

    Composer

    Although he was an exceptionally talented musician, and his opera Carmen is one of the most popular in the world, composer Georges Bizet did not have an easy life… or a long one. Born into a musical family, he enjoyed early success as a pianist and composer, entering the Paris Conservatoire before his 10th birthday and composing his Symphony in C at the age of 17. Bizet suffered from ill health and depression through most of his life, and a short stint in the army weakened him further. After early success with Le Docteur Miracle (1857), he had only moderate success with operas such as The Pearl Fishers (1863) and La jolie fille de Perth (1867).

    Carmen (1875) became Bizet’s greatest achievement, a culmination of his life and work. He used the music to drive the drama and action instead of just relying on the spoken dialogue in between to achieve the same result. In Carmen, the emotions of real people were powerfully expressed, marking the work as a strong precursor to verismo (realistic) opera. However, the initial reaction to Carmen was negative. Bizet returned dejected to his family home and died of a heart attack at the age of 36. Later that same year, in Vienna, Carmen triumphed and in subsequent years would premiere all over the world, including debuting in Toronto in 1879. Tchaikovsky, who saw the opera in 1876, predicted that Carmen would be the world’s most popular opera and it continues to be one of the most performed operas in the world.

    HENRI MEILHAC (1831 – 1897) and LUDOVIC HALÉVY (1834 – 1908)

    Librettists

    Carmen's success can be attributed as much to the work of the duo who wrote the libretto (script) as it can be to Bizet’s music.

    Before his career as a librettist took off, Henri Meilhac worked in a bookshop, and as a cartoonist and writer for newspapers in Paris. He was known for his vivacious and witty style. In 1856 he wrote the libretto for a one-act musical comedy called La Sarabande du cardinal. From then on Meilhac wrote exclusively for the theatre, eventually producing 115 works.

    Ludovic Halévy grew up in the theatre. Both his father and uncle worked in the industry and Halévy was a regular at rehearsals and performances on Parisian stages. In 1852 Halévy became a civil servant, rising to the rank of secrétaire-rédacteur (writer/editor) to the the French Legislature. In 1856 he met Jacques Offenbach, then a struggling composer, who invited him to join his newly formed theatre and for whom he wrote many librettos, including Orphée aux enfers (1858).

    In 1860, Halevy was commissioned to co-author a libretto but part way through the project, the second librettist left abruptly. Halévy needed to finish the contract, and was at a loss for a partner to help. He bumped into Meilhac outside the theatre and even though they weren’t well acquainted, Halévy offered him the job. This fortuitous meeting resulted in a fruitful partnership that lasted over 20 years, with Meilhac writing the dialogue and Halévy the lyrics. Together they wrote for several composers, most notably for Jacques Offenbach, providing librettos for La Belle Hélène (1864), La Vie parisienne (1866), La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (1867) and La Périchole (1868). However in writing the libretto for Bizet’s Carmen, they achieved their most notable success.

  • Carmen (January 23 – February 21, 2021)

    Saturday, January 23, 2021 | 7:30 p.m.
    Thursday, January 28, 2021 | 7:30 p.m.
    Sunday, January 31, 2021 | 2 p.m.
    Sunday, February 7, 2021 | 2 p.m.
    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 | 7:30 p.m.
    Saturday, February 13, 2021 | 4:30 p.m.
    Wednesday, February 17, 2021 | 7:30 p.m.
    Friday, February 19, 2021 | 7:30 p.m.
    Sunday, February 21, 2021 | 2 p.m.


2020/2021 season creative: BT/A

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts capacity: 2,070
Ticket prices do not include service fees, $9 CAD.

Carmen

Georges Bizet
To

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Performance Length: 3 hours, including one intermission


#CarmenCOC


What makes Carmen so special?

A searing portrait of a woman who is desired by everyone — but her only desire is to be free. The music is full of blazing melodies and famous arias that have made Carmen a beloved blockbuster.

A fiercely independent woman becomes ensnared in a high-stakes game among garrison soldiers, smugglers, and a superstar bullfighter, culminating in a deadly clash of passion and jealousy.

Our classic production transports audiences to a sun-drenched setting of bustling street scenes, outlaw hideaways, and a fateful climax that crackles with electricity.


“Electric and exciting.”

– The Globe and Mail

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