Carmen circa 2012. See Bizet's beloved opera classic in a grand, new interpretation. The work's timeless music remains unchanged, as does its passion. But in this interpretation, the scene for the story has been shifted from 19th century Spain to modern-day Sweden. In fact, Carmen lives right here in the Umeå neighbourhood of Ålidhem...
It's true what they say: really good art never goes out of fashion. Carmen premièred back in 1875 and still captivates its audiences with immortal numbers like Habanera and the Toreador Aria. The fact is that most of us can hum these melodies, perhaps without even knowing where they are from.
The story of the hot-tempered, charismatic main character with enormous romantic problems has been told countless times in opera houses the world over. In the original, she is a Romany cigarette factory worker living in Spain in the early 1800s. But there's no reason to do exactly the same thing you've always done, points out director Helena Röhr.
Most often, Carmen is given a shallow portrayal as a vamp whose only function is to please the men around her. You might think that the text in the aria Habanera, for example, is about sex. But listen closely, and you'll see that it's actually about love. "It's high time we portrayed some other sides of Carmen," says Röhr.
For this reason, the Carmen in Röhr's rendition lives in the Ålidhem neighbourhood in Umeå. Apart from the fact that she's Carmen, of course, she's also a bit like any other everyday person - someone who we can see ourselves reflected in here and now. After all, who hasn't had a bad romance or been harrowed by the winds of internal emotional hurricanes? And who hasn't felt at one time or another that life hasn't really turned out the way we had imagined it?
Haunted by their own and others' ideals about how a person should be, Carmen and her friends fight for true and equal love in a world we all recognise.
The musical setting is just what it should be in a grand opera. Together, the wonderful soloists, led by Susanne Levonen and Miriam Treichl, together with NorrlandsOperan's Symphony Orchestra, a choir and children's choir (on début in Carmen) will raise the roof in March.
Music: Georges Bizet
Libretto: Henri Meilhac och Ludovic Halévy
Swedish translation: Ulricha Johnson
Conductor: Rumon Gamba
Director: Helena Röhr
Set Design and Costumes: Ann-Sofi Nyberg
Choreography: Maria Naidu
Lighting: Miriam Helleday
Make-up Design: Robin Karlsson
Choir Manager: Orwar Eriksson
Carmen: Susanna Levonen/Miriam Treichl
Don José: Daniel Frank/Ulrik Qvale
Escamillo: Olle Persson
Michaela: Rebecca Rasmussen
Zuniga: Ludvig Lindström
Frasquita: Karin Andersson
Mercedes: Natalie Hernborg
Morales/Dancaïro: Johan Hallsten
Remendado: Fredrik af Klint
Lillas Pastia: Anton Karlsson
NorrlandsOperan Symphony Orchestra