national Arts Festival Banner

Saturday, February 20, 2010


The ultimate bad girl of opera comes to Durban courtesy of Ster-Kinekor’s Cinema Nouveau.

Opening at all Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau on February 19 is the Met Opera’s production of George Bizet’s Carmen. The most acclaimed, and one of the most popular works in all operatic literature, it will set the screens ablaze in a gripping new production directed by Olivier Award-winning director Richard Eyre.

Carmen is about sex, violence, and racism and its corollary: freedom,” says Eyre. “It is one of the inalienably great works of art. It’s sexy, in every sense. And I think it should be shocking.”

This production is one of the nine operas that form part of Cinema Nouveau’s screening of live operas from the Metropolitan Opera (New York) HD screenings that are beamed in select counties around the world. Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin makes his company debut at the Met, leading a sound cast of seasoned singers such as Elina Garanca as Carmen, Roberto Alagna as Don Jose, Barbara Frittoli as Micaela and Mariusz Kwiecien as Escamillo.

The sensational Latvian mezzo-soprano, Garanca will take on this giant title role for the first time at the Met, following her recently praised portrayal of the role at the Royal Opera House, in which she starred opposite famed tenor Roberto Alagna.

“I am so excited to be doing a new production of Carmen at the Met.,” she says. “You don’t get to develop productions of Carmen from scratch very often so I’m really looking forward to exploring the character further.”

Eyre asserts that it is often challenging to produce a well-known production like Carmen, a title which everyone knows and whose expectations precede the work itself. “And even if they don’t, they think they do. It’s like a fable,” he adds.

Be that as it may, Carmen is the kind of character whose strength and depth is unparalleled. One can never fully claim to understand her psychology.

“Carmen is defined by her unwillingness to settle,” says Garanca. “She is constantly searching for something and never satisfied. It may be sex, or more broadly, approval by men. It could also just be zest for life. And in that she is uncompromising.”

With tuneful melodies and a captivating plot, combined with a dream cast, it is without doubt that this HD presentation of Bizet’s “Carmen will delight audiences all over South Africa. The opera forms part of a series of operas that make up Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau’s third season of operas in HD.

Approximate running for Carmen is just over three hours. Book at the self-service terminals or box-office; alternatively, call 082 16789 or book online at

NB: Coming up at Cinema Nouveau are some of the nine operas that form part of Cinema Nouveau’s screening of live productions from the Metropolitan Opera: Simon Boccanegra on March 12; Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet on April 16 and Gioachino Rossini’s Armida on May 28.

Watch this space for a review by Lynne Goodman