04 May 2021

The Tragedy of CarmenA note from the director

by Omer Ben Seadia

The opera Carmen is perhaps one of the most famous and beloved pieces in the operatic canon, performed hundreds of times a year at opera companies all over the world. Its catchy tunes and intoxicating characters prove to be irresistible to artists and audiences alike. Peter Brook, in his adaptation, offers us an exciting opportunity to re-examine this story and its complex characters from a new perspective. Stripped from the opulent nature of grand opera, Brook’s version forces us to reconcile with the violent and brutalist aspects of the circumstances of the story. Drawing heavily from the novella by Mérimée, Brook doesn’t shy away from the complicated layers that these characters exemplify.

In this production, we have chosen to highlight the relationship of the characters to their individual fates and to explore the balance of freewill versus predetermined structure in human nature. Does fate control us, or do we have opportunities to break away and forge new paths, even if that path leads to violence or death?

Our relationship with the beloved Carmen continues to evolve through our expanding social understanding of domestic violence. This adaptation offers a chance to reconsider our own biases and personal discomfort, leaving room for further exploration. By updating the time and place of the opera to present-day Spanish Harlem in New York, we hope to preserve the essence of the environment while being respectful of the culture from which it hails.

After this past year, presenting live theater is a commitment that we do not take lightly. I’d like to thank Utah Opera and all of the artists involved for their trust and dedication, with a special thanks to our audience for your continued support and patience. It’s good to be back.