It is probably appropriate to start our story about “Carmen” with a fact that it is the most often staged opera in the world, while its author Georges Bizet remains in the operatic history primarily as an author of that single masterpiece. 135 years have passed since its premiere at the Opéra-Comique theatre in Paris, and even to this day no other operatic work can equal G. Bizet‘s Carmen when it comes to the number of different stagings.
“Carmen” wasn’t blessed with instant success – her first appearances were marked by scandal rather than acknowledgement. However, its popularity that emerged after Bizet’s death is still very much alive today. In his plans Bizet had more than 30 opera drafts, but before his death he managed to finish only four of them, excluding “Carmen”. Despite that, the glory of “Carmen” is enough to keep the composer’s spirit among us.
Each country has its own understanding of femininity. The Spanish like strong women, thus the character of Carmen is always a challenge for any singer. She is fatalistic, hedonistic, living only in current moment and not looking forward. Carmen is ready to give herself away, fully understanding the power of such action, however, she will demand the same dedication from anyone she gives herself to. “Free, independent mistress of all of her wishes”, Carmen radiates destructive, wild passion and unexplainably attractive power. She is probably the most charismatic character in operatic history. Don Jose, charmed by gypsy’s whims, looses everything – his world, once moral, calm and virtuous, is now shattered to pieces. He hopes that his love will keep Carmen, maybe even redeem her… Sadly, his hopes are only illusions.
The character of “Carmen” keeps returning: sometimes surrounded by the original spirit of the work, or put in today‘s context, ascetic or decorated with lush stage designs. Every time she achieves new incarnations, remaining true to her essence – she intrigues, rouses wonder, fear and admiration.
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Lithuanian National Opera & Ballet Theatre
A stunning construction opened in 1974 and offering a whole range of colourful productions. Worth a look inside even if you don't plan on attending anything.