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Ellen Kent’s Carmen – New Theatre Oxford

By Aikaterini Lygaki

Carmen is a cigarette factory-worker whose beauty, charm and seduction make her the most desirable woman in Seville: it is this charm which will lead to her eventual downfall. She seduces Don Jose, a soldier who is already courting the innocent Micaela, and drives him to social ruin and mad jealousy. At the height of the performance, Don Jose is blinded by his jealousy and murders Carmen when she announces that she loves the bullfighter Escamillo. This opera has everything — from comedic moments between the factory-girls, to moments of wild passion between Don Jose and Carmencita, to moments of heightened tragedy in its finale.

Ellen Kent’s production of ‘Carmen’, featuring the Ukrainian National Municipal Opera Kyiv, truly honoured the original piece by Bizet, as it highlighted the brilliancy of the opera with its impeccable orchestra, amazing cast, and magnificent staging. It clearly visualised the tensions of the performance and showed a minute attention to detail that astonishes. Key moments like the ‘Habanera’ and ‘The Toreador’s Song’ were executed perfectly and were succeeded with standing ovations from the audience.

This was my first time going to the opera and not only was it one of the most fun outings I’ve ever had in the theatre, it was also quite eye-opening. Kent managed to make a famously elitist medium, the opera, into a more inclusive one by employing staging, clothing and other visual cues to make the tensions between characters more understandable.

Going to see ‘Carmen’ was such a fun experience and it was very inspiring to see such a talented group of people giving their all on stage. For more memorable evenings, check out the new shows that are playing in the New Theatre:


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