By Georges Bizet
The opera Carmen invoked in me a feeling of relentlessness. Once the events are in motion there is no stopping faith from caching up. Like a mammoth oil tanker navigating a narrow straight, as soon as the coarse is set, there is no turning back.
When Carmen locks in on Don Jose, her destiny is fixed; the price of freedom is death.
When the curtain goes up we are introduced to a brooding and violent world that is ruled by the military, where virtues are low, desire is high and violence around the corner. Like bullfighters and boxers the main characters enter their arena with much ceremony and spectacle. They show their brightest feathers but in the end the fight is to the death. Those who leave the arena alive are scared for life.
A strong metaphor for the high to which the emotions are driven is the hot Spanish sun, once it rises there is no hiding from it.
The one pure element in this cesspool is Michaela, a direct tie to Don José’s past representing a way out to a better life in virtue and faith.
The original premiere of this opera caused a great uproar of disapproval, the fact that the main characters where of the bourgeois class and that the main character of the story died at the end of the story was unheard of. Bizet deliberately steered his creation on this collisions coarse, convinced the time was right. He was wrong; it took many years for his genius to be recognized. When it finally was, his opera quickly became an all time favorite in the operatic canon of many companies around the word.
When presenting the set, John Concklin used the words death-pit and bull ring
Don Jose is caught in a cool beam of light pointed at him like the gun barrels of his executioners. The spill light from this source doesn’t reveal much of the surrounding environment, enhancing the solitude and entrapment. The light is abruptly disappears with the fatal shot.
After a short break we hear the daybreak and while figures start emerging out of the dark holes in the wall the “sun” rises revealing the arena in which events will take shape. The light intensity keeps rising until the relentlessness of the Spanish sun at high noon is matched, virtually eliminating all shadows and revealing everything.
This scourging and all reveal light created by the banks of light above the walls will not decrease it’s intensity until Don Jose’s actions plunges us into darkness and the everlasting night.
Act 2 takes place in Lillas Pastias Tavern, a place where the lowlife of society celebrates their existence. The ambience of main hall of the tavern is set by abundance in red neon, with an occasional light-blub scattered around the place.
In the shadowy world the gypsy’s dance to entertain the patrons, while drinks are served and shady business goes unnoticed.
Act 1 - Scene 1
Act 1 - Scene 3
Act 1 - Scene 2
Act 1 - Scene 4
Act 1 - Scene 5
Act 1 - Scene 6
Act 2 - Scene 2
Act 2 - Scene 1
Act 2 - Scene 3
Act 2 - Scene 4
Act 4n - Scene 1
Act 4 - Scene 3
Act 4 - Scene 2
Example of Projection