Thursday, 20 September 2018

Beauties and the Andalucian beast

THE heat and passion of the Mediterranean come to chilly Oxford next month, with two new touring operas from producer

THE heat and passion of the Mediterranean come to chilly Oxford next month, with two new touring operas from producer Ellen Kent.

Reviving her role as promoter after a four-year break, Kent takes her productions of Bizet’s Carmen and Puccini’s Tosca on the road again to mark the return of Opera and Ballet International. Ellen, who is renowned for her stylish and lavish productions, has a few new tricks up her sleeve this time — a white Andalucian stallion who makes an appearance in Carmen, rescue donkeys and even choir boys.

Ellen, who grew up in Andalucia, said: “I’m starting from scratch with Carmen. There’ll be brand-new sets influenced by the wonderful paintings of Goya and reflecting the architecture of Seville with its balconies and orange trees, and its hot, dusty, Moorish architecture. The costumes will also reflect Goya’s paintings of the Spanish people of that era. And of course, it’s all set against the backdrop of the bullring.”

Bizet’s opera tells the story of the downfall of soldier Don José, who is seduced by the fiery, beautiful and passionate gypsy Carmen. Abandoning both his childhood sweetheart and his military career, José pursues Carmen but loses her to the glamorous bullfighter Escamillo. Puccini’s Tosca is no less violent, with torture, murder and suicide featuring alongside some of opera’s best-known music.

Tosca is at the New Theatre Oxford on Thursday, February 14, and Carmen is on Friday and Saturday, February 15 and 16. Box office 0844 871 3020 or go to www.atgtickets.com/oxford

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