Tracker Pixel for Entry

​FM Opera’s 50th Season Capped Off with Carmen

by John Showalter | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Theatre | April 10th, 2019

Carmen - photograph provided by John Showalter

Countless examples can be found throughout the history of great art that was only recognized as such after the life of the artist that created it. Such is true of Georges Bizet’s opera "Carmen."  While its reception during his lifetime could be arguably be referred to as ‘lukewarm’, it went on to become of the most widely performed and recognized works in the opera repertoire. One would think that a story of love, jealousy, revenge, and a fiery femme fatale would have perennial appeal, but Bizet’s down-to-earth realism and portrayal of such a strong-willed woman scandalized audiences in his time.

Perhaps it is the tumultuous history of this opera that lends itself to being a perfect production to cap off the 50th anniversary of Fargo-Moorhead Opera. While this isn’t the first performance of "Carmen" that FM Opera has put on (it’s the fourth, the last time being about ten years ago), the general director of FM Opera David Hamilton assures, “The director isn’t pulling any punches.” He is reprising a role in the opera that he played almost 35 to 40 years ago as one of Carmen’s gypsy smuggler companions. “We wanted to end the season with a big bang.”

Despite the action of the opera being set in Seville, Spain, the opera’s libretto is actually in Bizet’s native tongue of French, so it only made sense for such a momentous production put on by FM Opera to actually bring on a stage director from France, the acclaimed Maria Todaro. In this production of Carmen, she updates the backdrop of the opera from the late 1870s of the original production to the 1930s, in the midst of the Spanish Civil War.

“This is a more feminist take on Carmen,” said Hamilton, which is perhaps only fitting considering that "Carmen" is arguably one of the foremost portrayals in opera of a strong-willed woman who refuses to let any man control her life. “It’s a powerful story. I think people will enjoy how immediately relatable this updating of the production is,” Hamilton added. The opera will be sung in its original French, with subtitles projected above the stage. This production will also include unsung dialogue, or recitatif, like the original production, which Hamilton said helps move the narrative along.

The opera concerns the titular Carmen, a sultry, free-spirited femme fatale who catches the eye of the soldier Don Jose. Don Jose, over the course of the narrative, becomes so entranced by her beauty and vitality that he forgets not only his vows to the woman he originally promised himself to, the meek Micaela, a village maiden, but also to the army, leading him to be thrown in jail on Carmen’s behalf when he lets her escape arrest after causing a disturbance at the cigarette factory she works at. When he is let out two months later, he is still so in thrall to Carmen that he assaults his superior officer, deserts the army, and joins the gypsy band that Carmen helps smuggle contraband. However, he soon finds himself jilted as a virile young bullfighter named Escamillo starts to win Carmen’s affections. Don Jose’s all-consuming jealousy leads him to pursue Carmen and brings on the shocking act that ends the opera.

The role of the titular character in FM Opera’s 50th anniversary performance is played by Hilary Ginther, has previously worked with them when she was part of the Gate City Bank Young Artist Program about six years ago. All of 2019’s Young Artist Program members are also in this production, as well. The rest of the cast is comprised of performers both from this area and around the country, including the famed conductor Eric Weimer from Chicago. Our own Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra will provide the instrumentation.

Even those who have never seen Carmen are bound to recognize several pieces of music from it because of their wide use in other media, such as television and film. Such pieces include the famous “Habanera”, “The Toreador’s Song”, and “Seguidilla”. It is a story that contains the ever-popular subject matter of love and jealousy and the lengths to which it will drive people, making it a great piece for a neophyte to dip their toe into the expansive world of opera.

IF YOU GO:

"Carmen"

April 12-13, 7:30 p.m.

Festival Concert Hall NDSU

Recently in:

COVID-19, or Coronavirus, has started to make its rounds in the United States. As of Tuesday, Mar. 17, three residents in North Dakota, 11 in South Dakota, and over 60 in Minnesota have been confirmed to have the disease. The…

by Sonja ThompsonDebra Ruh is the CEO and Founder of Ruh Global IMPACT, a consulting firm that strives to help clients amplify their impact and become disability inclusion leaders. She also serves as the Chair of the United…

Best Bets

Ladies Ag Night

by HPR Staff

Thursday, March 19, 4:30- 8 pm1609 19th Ave N, FargoCass County Soil Conservation District is hosting their annual Ladies’ Ag Night supper event. This event has a goal of bringing together multiple generations of women involved…

Not long ago, we did not have Coronavirus or Covid-19 in our vocabulary. Now our worlds have been changed. And that change is not stopping anytime soon, it would appear.Most of us are in the same boat. Our businesses are in…

The 14th Century Black Plague Started Something Beyond Thoughts And PrayersI see Donald the Lyin’ King has decided that Easter will not be a good time to fill churches--but maybe April 30 will be. King Donald had talked so much…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

It goes without saying that Valentine’s Day is the most profitable of all the holidays and the one with the most tortured history, literally. It is confusing how an ancient Roman festival that involved sacrificing animals and…

Fargo obviously loves their classical music. Audiences have still turned out during the 2019-2020 season of the Sanford Masterworks Series performed by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra despite an unrelenting winter. That…

Eliza Hittman’s Sundance favorite “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” which played in theaters for just three days before Focus Features pulled the film amidst the widespread and unprecedented coronavirus-related closures, will…

This weekend, the 10th Annual Unglued Craft Fest will be held at the Plains Art Museum, featuring over 70 local and regional artists selling handmade items. Though most are Fargo-Moorhead residents, artists from Minneapolis, Sioux…

Theatre

Fargo Film Festival 2020

by HPR Contributor

by Dominic EricksonThis March, the Fargo Film Festival will celebrate its 20th year of entertaining die-hard cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike. The festival begins on March 17 and concludes March 21. The event is once again…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

by Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comFar North Spirits, located up in Hallock, MN, is the northernmost distillery in the lower 48. They may be young in the distillery world but the farm and the spirit reach far into the past.…

Wellness

Discover Yoga Differently

by HPR Contributor

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

#12 of On Tyranny: Make eye contact and small talk- “This is not just polite. It is part of being a citizen and a responsible member of society. It is also a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down social…