OA Carmen - courtesy of Opera AustraliaAfter a sell-out season in 2016, John Bell’s vibrant production of Bizet’s Carmen, featuring gypsy girls and bull-fighting boys in eye-popping colours, returns to the Sydney Opera House this weekend.

Tackling the gritty tale of power, corruption and destruction, and set against crumbling colonial architecture, this vibrantly colourful show will bring obsessions and love to the stage through irresistible tunes, traditional Spanish dance and a touch of contemporary breakdancing.

“Carmen is colourful, physical and entertaining, but it shouldn’t get too pretty,” said John Bell. “To succeed, it must have punch. Sex and sexual politics. Physicality and power.”

Israeli born mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham reprises the role of Carmen, a character she has been internationally recognised as one of today’s finest interpreters of the seductive femme fatale. Sharing the role is the stunning Sian Pendry, who made her mark as the fiery Carmen last year in Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.

Tenor extraordinaires, Argentine Marcelo Puente and Georgian Otar Jorjikia, will both make their highly anticipated Opera Australia debuts, sharing the role of soldier Don Josè. Carmen also brings with it some of Australia’s biggest opera names – Michael Honeyman (Escamillo), Stacey Alleaume and Natalie Aroyan (Micaëla), Richard Anderson and Adrian Tamburini (Zuniga) are but a few of the exceptional singers to appear on stage.

Over one hundred and forty years after its premiere, Carmen remains one of the world’s favourite operas, continuing to inspire contemporary music, fashion and film. Conducted by Carlo Goldstein and Tahu Matheson, Bizet buffs and first-time operagoers alike will be captivated by Carmen’s incredible score, including the iconic Habanera and Toreador Song.

The Havana-inspired sets have been designed by Michael Scott-Mitchell, the brains behind the incredible sets of Tosca and The Elixir of Love. Carmen will invite viewers into a once grand but now crumbling world featuring bright colours, cobblestone grounds and pale blue combi vans.

Teresa Negroponte’s costumes don’t shy away from the colour and life of Carmen with punchy hot colours and a mix of 50’s cool and modern day clothing. Featuring gangsters in bright jewel-toned suits and girls in sequins, turbans and furs, there’ll be plenty to watch.

Carmen is a must see opera, even if you’ve never set foot in an opera house,” said Opera Australia Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini. “If you’re new to opera, this production is the perfect first show – the work itself is, of course brilliant, the production values are second-to-none and with the stellar Australian and international cast we have assembled, it’s an opera that is set to impress.”

Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
Season: 10 February – 23 March 2018

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Image: Carmen – photo courtesy of Opera Australia