Opera Philadelphia

Published27 Mar 2018

Opera Philadelphia wraps its 2017-2018 season at the Academy of Music with a new production of Bizet’s Carmen

Mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack, who opened Opera Philadelphia’s 2017-2018 season with avocally formidable (The Philadelphia Inquirer) and “brilliant” performance (Opera News) in the title role of the new opera Elizabeth Cree, returns this spring to close out the season in the title role of one of the world’s most popular operas, Bizet’s masterpiece, Carmen. Directed by Paul Curran, who led 2015’s acclaimed La traviata, this new production of Carmen will enliven the Academy of Music for five performances, April 27-May 6.

"Carmen is among the world’s most popular operas for so many reasons, beginning, of course, with Bizet’s intoxicating score,” said David B. Devan, General Director & President of Opera Philadelphia. "It’s a masterpiece filled with unforgettable characters, edge-of-your-seat drama, and thrilling dance. Paul Curran’s production and Gary McCann’s designs bring freshness to the opera while also honoring all that is great about this beloved masterwork. I cannot think of a better way to close the 2017-2018 season at the Academy of Music and to prepare our loyal audience for a 2018-2019 season that presents three beloved classics at the Academy.”

Carmen Set Design
Carmen set design by Gary McCann Credit: Gary McCann

Carmen is an unforgettable story of runaway passions and dire consequences. Everyone is drawn to Carmen, an irresistible Spanish gypsy – except Corporal Don José. But even he soon succumbs to her seduction, fleeing a life in the military to join the gypsy world, all in Carmen’s name. When the famous bullfighter Escamillo begins to win her affection, however, a dangerous love triangle grows. Micaëla, Don José’s hometown sweetheart, attempts to wrest him from Carmen’s grasp, but to no avail – fate has already dealt its hand.

“Carmen has become such a beloved and enduring opera because of its great tunes, great story, and fascinating characters,” said director Paul Curran, whose production is set in the late 1950s in a non-specific locale reminiscent of Havana, Miami, or even Seville. “The musical numbers have been incorporated into every area of life since the 1875 premiere – from gondoliers on canals to advertisements for pretty much anything, and also dozens of pop tunes. That has to say something for its impact and staying power. Plus, Carmen is a story all of us can relate to: An outsider to society against whom circumstance is working harshly but who does everything in her power to build herself a better life.”

Heading a stellar cast is Daniela Mack, the “rich yet agile mezzo” (Opera News), as the iconic Carmen. Recent Curtis Institute of Music graduate Evan LeRoy Johnson brings his “fervent tenor” (Philadelphia Magazine) to the role of Don José, alongside baritone Adrian Timpau, in his company debut, lending his “dramatic and stylistic authority” (Opera News), to the role of the bullfighter, Escamillo.  Soprano Kirsten MacKinnon, who impressed Opera UK with her “poise, expressive singing and excellent vocalism,” sings the role of Micaëla. Johnathan McCullough, “a baritone of solid accomplishment” (Opera Today) who performed multiple roles in Elizabeth Cree, returns as Moralès, with South African bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana, praised by The New York Times for his “rich, glowing voice and elegant legato,” as Zuniga. Opera Philadelphia Emerging Artists Ashley Milanese and Anastasiia Sidorova perform the roles of Frasquita and Mercédès. Daniel Taylor (Le Remendado) and Doğukan Kuran (Le Dancaïre) round out the cast led by director Paul Curran (La traviata) and conductor Yves Abel, in his company debut leading the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra.

Daniela Mack
Daniela Mack stars as Carmen Credit: Shervin Lainez

Music by Georges Bizet | Libretto by Ludovic Halévy & Henri Meilhac
April 27, 29, May 2, 4, 6, 2018
Academy of Music
Performed in French with English Supertitles

Carmen / Daniela Mack
Don José / Evan LeRoy Johnson*
Escamillo / Adrian Timpau*
Micaëla / Kirsten MacKinnon
Moralès / Johnathan McCullough
Zuniga / Musa Ngqungwana
Frasquita / Emily Pogorelc
Mercédès / Anastasiia Sidorova
Le Remendado / Daniel Taylor
Le Dancaïre / Doğukan Kuran*

 Conductor / Yves Abel*
Director / Paul Curran
Set & Costume Design / Gary McCann
Lighting Design / Paul Hackenmueller
Wig & Make-up Design / David Zimmerman
Choreographer & Assistant Director / Seth Hoff
Chorus Master / Elizabeth Braden
Stage Manager / Lisa Anderson

*Opera Philadelphia debut

About Opera Philadelphia
Opera Philadelphia is committed to embracing innovation and developing opera for the 21st century. Described as “the very model of a modern opera company” by the Washington Post, Opera Philadelphia’s annual fall festival, O, is a finalist for the 2018 International Opera Award for Best Festival. The company’s second fall festival, O18, will take place on September 20-30, 2018, launching a 2018-2019 season of ten operatic events. For more information, visit operaphila.org.

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