Bizet’s famous opera is taken up in a staging by Jean-Louis Grinda, already given in 2018. Returning to the sources, he speaks of Carmen’s death as an “assassination”. The show is sold out until January 30.
The Théâtre du Capitole is resuming a production of Georges Bizet’s opera created in Toulouse in 2018. A highly anticipated show, which is sold out for eight performances, from January 21 to 30. Decryption of the work with the director Jean-Louis Grinda.
You have a strong point of view on this opera…
Carmen has often been presented as a seductive bitch and Don José as a good boy. For me it’s just the opposite. This guy is hyperviolent. The day Carmen decides to let him go, he kills her.
Isn’t this a drama of passion?
It’s an assassination. Let’s not forget that in Prosper Mérimée’s short story which inspired Bizet’s opera, Don José has to leave the village where he lives because he killed someone during a fight. Everything indicates that he is a jealous and very dangerous man. When you understand this, the vision of “Carmen” is radically different. This opera shocked the public and the critics when it premiered in 1875. We ended up switching to a well-meaning vision of the character of Carmen, which was not that of Mérimée and Bizet.
Carmen, victim of a feminicide… Have you thought of any miscellaneous facts?
It’s not necessary, it’s all in the work. Carmen is a very young girl, a gypsy, which puts her on the fringes a bit. She discovers the great love with Escamillo. He understood that she was a free woman. He says it: “Carmen’s love affairs do not last six months”. Escamillo knows he must respect Carmen’s freedom if he wants to keep her. He is a man who loves danger, an adored bullfighter. While Don José is really the archetype of the poor guy.
In your show, the story begins with the death of Carmen… How did this idea for the staging come about?
Music first. Bizet’s overture is brilliant as a party, but very dramatic. It made me want to put on this show as a flashback, as if we were in Don José’s head for the whole show.
A word on this steel decor?
We chose, with Rudy Sabounghi, a very great scenographer, to avoid overbidding the decor to focus on the work. We imagined these two curved walls which allow a very flexible, fast game with a certain fantasy. Their rust color is reminiscent of the red associated with Spain. The clear floor is reminiscent of bullring sand. This decor takes the light very well, like bursts of sunlight.
A new distribution, double moreover, that complicates things?
Inevitably you have to adapt and I am here to put myself at the service of the work and the artists, not to impose things on them that they cannot do. It’s interesting and I’m very proud, for example, that Marie-Nicole Lemieux sings her first Carmen in my show. The big difference with the 2018 production is that there were spoken dialogues, whereas this time all the dialogues are sung.
Couldn’t come to Toulouse for the rehearsals?
No, I worked in constant contact with my assistant who was there. I would have liked to have been there but the calendars got pushed around due to the covid. I have three premieres on the same night. On Friday, I will be in Monte-Carlo for the premiere of an opera by Rossini, “The Turk in Italy”, with Cecilia Bartoli. There is also the revival of “Thaïs” by Massenet in Tours, with Michel Plasson at the desk. But I will come to see the show, in both casts.
The Grinda experience
Director of the Monte-Carlo Opera and of the Chorégies d’Orange festival, Jean-Louis Grinda has already signed several productions at the Capitole Theater: “La Chauve-Souris”, “La Périchole”, “L’Homme de la Mancha” and “Carmen”, in 2018. This opera by Georges Bizet returns to the bill with the choirs and the orchestra of the Capitole under the direction of Giuliano Carella, and a new and double cast for the main roles. Marie-Nicole Lemieux and Eva Zaïcik sing Carmen for the first time. Alongside them, Jean-François Borras and Amadi Lagha (Don José), Alexandre Duhamel and Armando Noguera (Escamillo), Elsa Benoit and Marianne Croux (Micaëla).