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Classic Carmen

Carmen. Photo courtesy of Warwick Arts Centre.

Bizet's Carmen, Opera International, Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry. Wednesday 24 April 2024. Madam Butterfly is on Thursday 25 April.

Review by Ann Cee.

At the heart of Bizet's 'Carmen' are powerful stories of misplaced love and dangerous passions amongst Seville's colourful communities.  And in Helen Kent's production of Carmen, the smugglers, the dancers, the bullfighters as well as the soldiers and the 'decent' townsfolk live out  their complicated love lives at the foot of imposing Roman steps and to a soundtrack of trumpets and horns.

Whilst Carmen (Irina Sproglis) and her gypsy dancers play fast and loose with their admirers' affections, their menfolk take to smuggling contraband under the drunken noses of the authorities (Valeriu Cojocaru).And good soldier Don Jose (Davit Sumbadze) finds himself engulfed in this murky underworld when he fails to make a wise decision to return to his homeland and marry a good woman (Alyona Kistenyova) who his mother approves of.

Carmen plays for one night only at Warwick Arts Centre. Photo courtesy of WAC.

Alas, the pull of Carmen is too strong and Don Jose seals his own fate with a very bad decision to run away with her.

The Ukrainian Opera company do a fine job of evoking the bars and streets of a Spanish city in the confines of a tight stage and the orchestra, conducted by Vasyl Vasylenko, expertly steer the story through every mood and tension, from poignant professions of love, to furious jealous rage, to inebriated clownery.

This tragic tale of the Spanish gypsy girl and the foolish chaps who succumb to her abundant charms can only have one terrible ending but it still has horror when it comes.The evening closed with a stirring rendition of the Ukrainian National Anthem.


There’s more opera from this team this evening (Thursday 25 April) as they switch into the more restrained ascetics of Japan and Puccini’s tale of long distance longing.   Madame Butterfly will tug at your heart strings as her American naval officer follows his own path. 

Ellen Kent's Carmer. Photo courtesy of Warwick Arts Centre.

We can expect more evocative sets, beautiful sound and sumptuous costumes as we are whisked into a love story in a foreign land.   

Both operas have been produced by award winner Ellen Kent and are performed by the Ukrainian Opera and Ballet Theatre Kyiv, international soloists and a full orchestra in the exquisite Butterworth Hall.


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