12 November 2020

Bizet’s opera Carmen returns to the Zajc stage with a premiere performance on Thursday, November 12, 2020, starting at 6:30 PM.

The staging of this timeless opera story about passionate, blind love, about jealousy, defiance and anger, about a woman whom, as Tchaikovsky said, only fate can have, has once again been devised by Selma Banich, Sandra Dekanić, Marin Blažević and Alan Vukelić. They were also the authors of the unforgettable performances in the Pula Arena in 2019, when the stage incorporated hundreds of square meters of the stands of the monumental Arena before the audience of over 2,000 spectators.

According to the original plan, this new version was intended to be an adaptation of the Pula show for the Zajc stage, about which Marin Blažević says:

“The new version, although originally conceived just as an adaptation of Pula’s Carmen as we presented it in fall 2019 in a ‘gala’ format, presented us with challenges of the ‘uncertain,’ the ‘impossible,’ the ‘impermissible,’ and really the ‘abnormal’ in the performing arts, especially in opera. This new, third, and possibly only temporary version of our shared Carmen is at the same time sentimental and ironic, painful and brutal, eerie and witty, ominous and defiant—theatrical reminiscence and anticipation of the life we have lived, of opera as musical-scenic forms trying to survive, and a time when performing, living, vulnerable theatre bodies may be replaced by electronic stage ‘ghosts,’ virtual online stages conquered by stage avatars resistant to viruses, at least those of a biological nature.”

Besides that, Blažević emphasizes that for him, this version of Carmen is important for two other reasons: because it has once again confirmed the possibility of equal collaborative authorship over the extremely complex form that is opera, and secondly, and because all three versions are connected by Anamarija Knego (Micäela) and Aljaž Farasin (Don José), with their free artistic attitude and a performance that recognizes the challenge of exploring the future of opera at risk.

The title role will be played by the Austrian mezzo-soprano Michaela Selinger, who delighted both the audience and critics last season as Sesto in Händel’s opera Julius Caesar in Egypt. Aljaž Farasin and Domagoj Dorotić will alternate in the role of Don José, and Luka Ortar will play the role of Escamillo. The performances will be conducted by the new house conductor, maestro Valentin Egel.

After its Paris premiere in 1875, Georges Bizet’s Carmen reached the height of its popularity among operas and remains one of the most performed operas in the world to this day. It is composed for a libretto based on the novel of the same name by Prosper Mérimée. The librettists Halevy and Meilhac adapted the realism of Mérimée’s narrative prose to the usages of musical stage performances at the time. Spanish rhythms and familiar melodies confirm the enduring appeal and unusual power of this dramatic opera and Bizet’s inimitable romantic sensibility.

The premiere performance is dedicated to Mani Gotovac, the theatrologist, dramaturg, theatre critic and editor, writer, first woman to head the Croatian National Theatre, and the intendant of the Rijeka Theatre from 2003 to 2007, who passed away a year ago.


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