Carmen returns to the Sydney Opera House this Summer

OA Carmen - photo by Prudence UptonJohn Bell’s evocative, vibrant production of Bizet’s Carmen returns to the Joan Sutherland Theatre this summer with five singers making their Opera Australia debuts, bringing new life to an enduring, critically acclaimed favourite.

The titular femme fatale is played by Italian mezzo-soprano Veronica Simeoni in a signature role she has performed all over the world with a voice described as “rich and sufficiently wine-dark” by Limelight magazine.

Italian tenor Roberto Aronica plays Carmen’s desperate lover Don José and Polish bass-baritone Lukasz Golinski plays Escamillo. Young sopranos, Italian Claudia Pavone and Romanian-born British Simona Mihai, debut in the shared role of Micaëla.

Opera Australia’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini is pleased to bring these five internationally recognised singers to Sydney. “Carmen has a vibrant mix of established singers and rising stars. I have no doubt Lukasz will be one of the best Escamillos we’ve ever had – it’s so difficult to cast him because everyone wants him. Claudia and Simona are also both brilliant sopranos with strong careers ahead of them,” he said.

With a massive 24 show run performed over 10 weeks, Carmen features an alternating cast of eighteen exceptionally talented principal singers. The role of Carmen is shared with our very own Sian Sharp, and Carmen Topciu who returns after her critically acclaimed OA debut in 2019’s Anna Bolena.

South Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee and Georgian tenor Otar Jorjikia will both reprise the shared role of Don José and Luke Gabbedy will share the role of Escamillo. The ensemble cast also includes Sharon Zhai, Jane Ede, Agnes Sarkis, Anthony Mackey, Virgilio Marino, Nicholas Jones, Alexander Hargreaves and Sitiveni Talei.

Revival director Constantine Costi brings back a production that’s “not afraid to be sexy” according to the Australian Financial Review, with prestigious conductor Christian Badea making a welcome return to the Opera House stage along with OA’s conductor Tahu Matheson.

Georges Bizet was born in 1838 to a wigmaker-turned-singing-teacher father and mother who was an accomplished pianist. He was a gifted pianist and composer, but generally unlucky in his lifetime. He was a prolific composer, forever entering competitions (but rarely winning prizes) and premiering new works (but rarely winning praise). He found he could make more money arranging other people’s music than composing his own.

In 1875, he died of heart disease at just 36. His tragic death brought the success he’d sought in his lifetime. Just three months after Carmen had premiered to a disparaging press, a special performance of his last opera in honour of his death won public hearts. Carmen has become an international sensation and is now one of the most popular, most often-performed operas in the world.

Conductor: Christian Badea, Tahu Matheson Director: John Bell Revival Director: Constantine Costi Featuring: Veronica Simeoni, Sian Sharp, Carmen Topciu, Roberto Aronica, Yonghoon Lee, Otar Jorjikia, Lukasz Golinski, Luke Gabbedy, Claudia Pavone, Simona Mihai, Anthony Mackey, Sharon Zhai, Jane Ede, Agnes Sarkis, Alexander Hargreaves, Virgilio Marino, Nicholas Jones, Sitiveni Talei, Opera Australia Chorus, Opera Australia Children’s Chorus, Opera Australia Orchestra Set Designer: Michael Scott-Mitchell Costume Designer: Teresa Negroponte Lighting Designer: Trent Suidgeest Lighting Realised: David Parsons Original Choreographer: Kelley Abbey Revival Choreographer: Amy Campbell Fight Director: Troy Honeysett

Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney
Season: 11 January – 26 March 2020

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Image: Opera Australia’s production of Carmen – photo by Prudence Upton