Grand opera is returning to Chattanooga once again with Bizet’s Carmen on April 11 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tivoli Theatre. The opera was last performed by the CSO in October, 1994.
“We had financial and programmatic success with bringing back grand opera during our 2016/17 season with Madame Butterfly,” said CSO Executive Director Samantha Teter.
“The excitement from the community around opera was palpable, and we are excited to bring a fully staged grand opera back this season with Carmen
Carmen is set in southern Spain and centers on Carmen, a beautiful and fiery gypsy girl who seduces Don José, a straight-laced soldier in the army. The tale that unfolds is one of passion, obsession, and spurned love. When Carmen made its debut in 1875 it was met with harsh criticism and negative reviews - with a scandalous heroine and the portrayal of characters as real men and women with raw emotions, Carmen was far from the conventional operas of that day.
Today, Carmen has become a worldwide operatic phenomenon, and is a favorite among long-time opera enthusiasts and those new to opera. “For those of you who’ve experienced Bizet’s Carmen live, you will completely understand why we’ve chosen it for our next production,” said Music Director Emeritus and opera conductor, Bob Bernhardt. “The music is glorious and sensual, the story is timelessly tragic, and it’s a vocal and orchestral tour de force, filled with famous melodies and glorious ensembles. If you’ve never been to Carmen, take this chance! The Tivoli Theater is a wonderful opera house, and you’ll get to ‘feel’ every moment of this masterpiece in an intimate, personal way. You’ll experience what opera lovers have known for nearly 150 years: Carmen is breathtakingly beautiful, and completely unforgettable!"
In addition to producing Carmen on April 11 and 13 of this year, the CSO has planned multiple community-centric events to increase the accessibility of opera in Chattanooga. Principal Pops Conductor and Music Director Emeritus, Bob Bernhardt, will be hosting Carmen – Peeking Behind the Curtain, on Saturday, April 6 at 11 a.m. at the Chattanooga Public Library’s downtown branch. This lecture, which is free and open to the public, is a fun, informative, and engaging way for those new to opera to learn about Carmen. The CSO is also collaborating with the City of Chattanooga to present Carmen: A Preview in the Park. This showcase will feature soloists from the upcoming opera on Monday, April 8, at 11:30 a.m. in Miller Park. Attendees will get to experience excerpts from one of the most famous operas of all time this free afternoon preview event. The CSO is also working with Hamilton County schools to allow local high school students to attend a full dress rehearsal.