Critical acclaim for 'Carmen' at San Francisco Opera
Bold new production of ‘Carmen’ for San Francisco Opera – Examiner.com interview
It’s a fresh and exciting version that has the ability to make all audiences feel invigorated by a work that is a mainstay of the operatic canon. Many of us involved with the show feel the production holds a great mass appeal, and has the ability to bring people from many different backgrounds into the opera house.
Tenor Brian Jagde sings Don José, a role which he says is now “a staple” in his repertoire. “I have a long history in many roles with this opera,” he says, “and it is likely for that reason that it’s so close to my heart.” Among his recent performances of Don José was his debut appearance in 2015 at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, in which he was described by Codalario magazine as both “passionate” and “virile”, adding that “he transcended in voice and the eloquence of his acting”. It also referred to the end of the fourth act as “dramatic and heartbreaking”. Jagde sang the role at the Deutsche Oper Berlin just before his arrival in San Francisco for this production, and is due to appear at the Bayerische Staatsoper in the coming season, as well as in new productions in several other international houses.
Almost every version of Carmen in which Jagde has performed has been in a traditional setting, but this version, he says, differs in a few interesting ways. “It sticks to the base story of Carmen – the novella itself, and the opera libretto – pretty closely, while still taking a few liberties. In general, what’s great about an opera like Carmen is that it can be set in many time periods and still make an impact.” He says that, in order to research the people and the setting of the story, the directors traveled to a couple of small towns in Morocco that have an old Spanish feel but exist in modern times. “This, coupled with their Spanish heritage, helps them paint a slightly different portrait of the work than is commonly staged. Transporting the story into a modern setting inherently allows the work to have additional appeal. The town of Ceuta has a retro look and feel, but also has a population who is similar to what’s referenced in the original timeline of the story.”
Whilst he hopes that younger people might be drawn to this particular version of Carmen, as has been suggested, Jagde says he thinks it will be of interest for a wide range of ages. “It’s a fresh and exciting version that has the ability to make all audiences feel invigorated by a work that is a mainstay of the operatic canon. Many of us involved with the show feel the production holds a great mass appeal, and has the ability to bring people from many different backgrounds into the opera house.”
Gilly Lloyd – Examiner
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Image: Cory Weaver for San Francisco Opera