Love. Passion. Betrayal. Bull fights.
No, this is not the latest reality show, but a theatrical interpretation of Georges Bizet’s opera, Carmen, at the American Repertoire Theater in Cambridge. Although lacking an orchestra, the two and a half hour performance about a Gypsy woman and the men she snares, was sensuous and surprisingly vibrant. And thanks to the Art Appreciation Society, twenty HBS students paid only half-price for tickets to the show.
Carmen, played by Christina Baldwin, was not your typical fat lady singing. She seduced the audience with her sexy dancing and strong voice. Her opening aria, “Love is a bird that no man ever learned to tame,” set the stage for the deadly love triangle with Don Jose (Bradley Greenwald) and Escamillo (Bill Murray – no, not the famous one).
The plot was streamlined, but for the most part, true to the original: Don Jose, a sweet but foolish soldier, falls in love with Carmen after watching her sing and dance in prison. She convinces him that she will love him if he lets her escape and he does. He then deserts his mother and his long-time friend and admirer Micaela to pursue Carmen into the mountains.
Unfortunately, Carmen is easily distracted. While she waits for Don Jose, she meets Escamillo, a famous bull fighter and falls in love with him. Driven mad by jealousy, Don Jose ultimately stabs Carmen to death.
Unfortunately, Carmen’s run at the ART is finished, but never-before-opera goers should seek it out. It is one of the most accessible and moving operas.
For those who are traveling to NYC within the next two months, Carmen is playing at the famous Metropolitan Opera. Even closer, try Netflix.com and enjoy Carmen on the small screen.
Playing for the next month at the ART is a new Colombian play called The Keening.