Barry Kosky’s all-singing, all-dancing version of Carmen (Bizet, 1875) returns to the Royal Opera House in London on 22 June. The opera premiered in the UK in February 2018 and was revived by the Royal Opera the following December. Its world premiere took place at Oper Frankfurt, one of Germany’s leading opera houses, in 2016.
The production draws heavily on musical theatre, combining strong theatrical visuals, energetic dancing, huge musical numbers and the addition of a narrator to create a spectacular show that divided critics and audiences on previous performances. Australian artistic director Kosky is known for his highly individual, theatrical style, and the opera was variously described as taking liberties with Bizet’s original or as truly extraordinary.
The soldier Don José intends to marry Micaëla, a girl from his home village. But when he meets the sensual and fiercely independent Carmen, he sacrifices everything to be with her. Carmen quickly grows bored of Don José and his possessiveness. When she turns her attentions to the dashing toreador Escamillo, Don José’s jealousy erupts into violence. Kosky’s staging puts Carmen right at the centre of the action, we see everything from her perspective.
Kosky made his Royal Opera debut in the 2016-17 season directing Shostakovich’s The Nose (1930). He is currently intendant and artistic director of Komische Oper Berlin, a position he has held since 2012.
French mezzo-soprano Anaïk Morel makes her Royal Opera debut in the title role, sharing the part with Russian mezzo-soprano and Jette Parker Young Artist Aigul Akhmetshina. American tenor Bryan Hymel sings Don José. He shares the role with Armenian tenor Arsen Soghomonyan, in his Royal Opera debut. American soprano Ailyn Pérez and Russian soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan share the role of Micaëla, while Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni and New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes share the role of Escamillo.
The production features set and costume designs by Katrin Lea Tag, lighting design by Joachim Klein and choreography by Otto Pichler. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and Royal Opera Chorus will be conducted by Julia Jones.
Performances run to 20 July 2019 and on 2 July it will be broadcast live from the Royal Opera House as part of the summer BP Big Screens.
Barry Kosky’s all-singing, all-dancing Carmen returns to the Royal Opera House for its second revival.