'Carmen' hits MET stage

The Metropolitan Opera Simulcast season is entering its second half with the much celebrated “Carmen.”

“Carmen,” playing at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Jan. 16, at 1 p.m., has been one of the world’s most performed operas since re-opening in Vienna in the 1880s.

To help celebrate this opera, the Mercyhurst College voice students of Louisa Jonason will be starting off the afternoon at noon by performing a few pieces from “Carmen” live in the art gallery.
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Junior Lynn Dula will be performing one of the most famous pieces from the opera, “Act I Habanera.”

Dula, senior Mary Spinelli and junior Megan Duane will also perform the “Act II Gypsy Song.”

Composer Georges Bizet was inspired, like many opera composers, by literature. Bizet turned to Prosper Merimee’s novel “Carmen,” written around 1845. With the help of two librettists, Henri Meihac and Ludovic Halevy, Bizet completed “Carmen” in 1875, when it premiered in Paris at the Opera-Comique Theatre. The opera was very unpopular when it first premiered, and Bizet died of a heart attack before seeing what a timeless success his opera would become.

Now “Carmen” is looked at as staple operatic repertoire and is ranked number four on Opera America’s list of the most-performed operas.

MET production director Richard Eyre describes “Carmen” as centering around “sex, violence and racism.” The opera takes place around 1830 in Spain. Carmen is a Gypsy who falls in love with a soldier, Don Jose.

Act I begins outside of a cigarette factory, where soldier Don Jose arrests Carmen, who responds by making seductive promises. Don Jose then lets Carmen escape, for which he is arrested.

Act II takes place in an inn where Carmen greets Don Jose after his release from jail.

In Act III Don Jose’s old lover seeks him out and tells him that his mother is dying. Don Jose leaves to go to her.

In Act IV, Don Jose returns to Carmen to see that she is now the lover of a bullfighter. In a jealous rage, Don Jose takes dramatic steps, causing an unsuspecting tragedy that can only be found out by attending the MET simulcast this weekend.