Carmen is the famous opera written by Georges Bizet. He died at the age of 36, just 3 months after the premier performance of Carmen.
The story of Carmen is set in Spain and revolves around two women and two men. Carman (Josè Maria Lo Monaco) a gypsy woman, and the men that love her. The opposing men in this opera are Don José (Andeka Gorrotxategi) an army soldier, and Escamillo (Luke Gabbedy) a Spanish Bullfighter. Micaëla (Natalie Aroyan) is Don José’s fiancee. (Due to the intensity of the singing involved in this opera a different set of singers perform on alternating nights.)
The opera takes place on a specially built stage on the harbour banks at Mrs Macquarie's Point. The 44 members of the Opera Australia Orchestra play live seated on a floating platform under the sloping circular stage. The stage is on the water in front of the audience seated on tiered seating. The raised tiers of the seating gives all the audience a good view of what is happening on the stage.
The harbour setting of the opera is spectacular. I suggest getting there early and watch the sun go down over the harbour before the opera commences. Once darkness comes the stage has as its backdrop the lit up Sydney CBD buildings, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and Luna Park. The stars twinkle above the stage and the occasional ferry traverses the harbour.
There are various Spanish styled food and beverage outlets set up within the Carmen enclosure. These are open before the opera starts and at interval. Make a night of it!
The sets and props on the stage are minimal in order to highlight the opera singers. Huge cranes lower and lift an army tank, truck, and container. Drums with fires lit in them ring the stage. The backdrop is the reverse side of huge 9-metre letters spelling out CARMEN. They have 1,750 red lightbulbs blazing on them at various moments of the opera. The opera relies on effective lighting to emphasize the mood of the scenes with various colors and intensities.
Carmen Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour
Running time: approximately 2 hours & 45 minutes, including one 35-minute interval.
Tickets: $299.00, $229.00, $149.00, $99.00
Where: Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney, NSW, Australia