MARTHA COLLINS - Stage Director for Carmen
As I look forward to the opening night of Carmen in a few days, it is interesting to look back on the journey that got me to this point. Carmen is an opera I have known for so long, that I knew wanted to take the time to go back to the basics and explore it with fresh eyes and ears.
To start, I re-read the novella of the same name by Prosper Mérimée on which the librettists based the opera, and the poem The Gypsies by Pushkin which inspired the novella.
Then I delved into researching life in Spain in 1820. I explored the different social classes and how they related to one another; the peasants, upper class, the military and, of course, the gypsies. In particular, it was gypsy life I focused on - their history, religion, music and dance.
To understand Escamillo, I learned about the art and ritual of the bullfight. To have sets and costumes that would bring this society to life visually, I researched the architecture of the time, the styles of dress, the climate, and the geography of Spain.
Ultimately, of course, it is the words and music of Bizet’s brilliant opera that tell the story, and I have reveled in immersing myself in each of the character's thoughts and emotions.