Grange Festival Carmen 2017 small


Born free, lived free, died free


Don José’s life is all mapped out. A dutiful, well-respected soldier, he has his mother’s blessing to marry the woman he’s sure he loves. And then one day, unannounced and unexpected, Carmen walks into his life. From that moment on, he knows there’s no going back and that his life will never be the same again.

Carmen, the opera, and Carmen, the woman, are both full of seductive paradoxes, but Bizet’s music conspires to carry us on a journey which allows the questions to remain in play throughout. Tragedy sits side-by-side with joie-de-vivre and wit, as Carmen – born free and unwilling to let anyone or anything clip her wings – remains true to herself to the bitter end.

Telling this story presents tantalizing choices. Is Carmen calculated or helpless in her own and Don Jose’s downfall? Is Don José a cold-blooded killer or merely an infatuated lover? Are Escamillo and Micaëla victims of or witnesses to these tragic events? Bizet’s scintillating music gets under your skin and transports you to the heart of this irresistible story.

A dangerous opera of uncontrollable infatuations, hot headed violence and blistering passions. It seems impossible for this opera, written in 1875, to age. It’s power to shock, enthral and astound audiences remains as razor sharp as it ever was.

Annabel Arden and Joanna Parker are the distinctive director/designer team behind Glyndebourne’s sophisticated new Barber of Seville and Café Kafka for The Royal Opera House. Annabel brings together the same team that produced Opera North’s critically acclaimed Andrea Chénier “…. exerts irresistible visceral power… a thrilling evening that richly deserved its enthusiastic reception” to create a fiery new Carmen for The Grange Festival with one of the leading French conductors of his generation, Jean-Luc Tingaud.

  • Composer — Georges Bizet
  • Librettists — Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
  • Based on the novella by — Prosper Mérimée

Production Team




Bizet's orchestration, sparklingly dispatched by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the conductor Jean-Luc Tingaud

The Times

[this Carmen] has one of the most chilling scenes I've seen in a theatre all year


Na'ama Goldman, who happens to look a lot like the late Amy Winehouse, was terrifically cast in the title role'

The Arburturian

a vividly engaging account of Bizet's opera performed with a sure sense of style

Planet Hugill

No one could accuse director Annabel Arden and designer Joanna Parker's production of Carmen of not being innovative or accessible'


Annabel Arden's production certainly brings a fresh approach

Classical Source
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