The Threepenny Carmen

Cast

Megan Marino
Carmen
(April 15, 17, 23, 25)

Ashley Dixon
Carmen
(April 28, 30, May 2, 6, 8)

Jasmine Habersham
Micaëla

Richard Trey Smagur
Don Jose

Michael Mayes
Escamillo
(April 15, 17, 23, 25)

Theo Hoffman
Escamillo
(April 28, 30, May 2, 6, 8)

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Calvin Griffin
El Dancairo
(April 15, 17, 23, 25, 28, 30, May 2)

Brian James Myer
El Dancairo
(May 6 & 8)

Nathan Munson
El Remendado

Alejandra Sandoval
Frasquita

Gabrielle Beteag
Mercedes

Tom Key
Lilas Pastia

Sonia Olla
Flamenco Dancer

Creative

Jorge Parodi
Conductor

Tomer Zvulun
Stage Director

Bruno Baker
Assistant Director

Julia Noulin-Merat
Set Designer

Joanna Schmink
Costume Designer

Erin Teachman
Projection Designer

Marcella Barbeau
Lighting Designer

Composer: Georges Bizet
Librettist: Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Premiere Date: March 3, 1875: Opéra-Comique, Paris

Carmen is no stranger to The Threepenny Bar. In this watering hole at the crossroads of nowhere, everyone has a story.

The Atlanta Opera’s all-new version of this beloved classic explores a modern Carmen. Set at the fringes of society, Bizet’s music is intertwined with the dramatic stomps and flourishes of flamenco.

The Threepenny Carmen walks a thin line between lust and death in one of opera’s most iconic love triangles.

Starring Megan Marino as Carmen, Michael Mayes as Escamillo, Richard Trey Smagur as Don Jose, and Tom Key as seedy bar owner Lilas Pastia. This production features flamenco superstar Sonia Olla.

Performed in French with English supertitles

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part of the 2020-21 Molly Blank Big Tent Series
production sponsored by Dr. Harold Brody & Mr. Donald Smith

The Threepenny Carmen is not simply a stripped down version of the original opera, it digs into what Bizet’s 1875 classic might mean for audiences today. Capturing its essence as an exploration of sexual freedom, social hierarchies and the class system.

Directed by Tomer Zvulun, The Atlanta Opera General & Artistic Directior, this world premiere production updates the action to a Spanish-themed dive bar, where Carmen works as a cabaret singer. Designed by ArtsImpulse Theatre Award-winner Julia Noulin-Mérat and Joanna Schmink respectively, the sets and costumes draw inspiration from the films of Pedro Almodóvar, using bold primary colors and a larger-than-life aesthetic to reflect the bar owner’s crudely reductive approach to the cultures he exploits.

Bright colors, costumes, and Flamenco are featured, and the production marks the Atlanta Opera debut of Flamenco dance legend Sonia Olla, “a furnace of earthy sensuality” (New York Times) whose extensive choreography credits include Madonna’s 2015-16 world tour.

UPGRADE YOUR EXPERIENCE
Tailgate Picnic Pack

The Tailgate Picnic Pack feeds up to four people for $78 and will be delivered to your car upon arrival. The pack includes:

– Roasted mushroom salad with ricotta salata grilled olive oil focaccia
– Shaved tenderloin with balsamic red onion jam
– Grilled vegetable kabobs with arugula pesto, and sundried tomatoes
– Marinated olives with citrus and rosemary
– Artisan charcuterie, assorted local cheeses, and gourmet crackers
– Tres leches cake jar, almond cookies, and chocolate churro popcorn
All food and beverage must be enjoyed either at your car in the parking lot “tailgate-style,” or in the designated “café” area outside of the Big Tent. No food and drink are allowed under the Big Tent. (No beverages are included in the pack.)

Get the Feeling

Costume sketches by Joanna Schmink

Characters & Cast

Carmen
(Apr 15, 17, 23, & 25)

Megan Marino

View Website

Carmen
(Apr 28, 30, May 2, 6, & 8)

Ashley Dixon

View Website

Micaëla

Jasmine Habersham

View Website

Don Jose

Richard Trey Smagur

View Website

Escamillo
(Apr 15, 17, 23, & 25)

Michael Mayes

View Website

Escamillo
(Apr 28, 30, May 2, 6, & 8)

Theo Hoffman

View Website

Top Things to Know

What to Expect

Your safety is our top priority

This outdoor experience was designed in consultation with leading experts in the fields of epidemiology, public health, workplace/industrial hygiene, and infectious diseases.
The Atlanta Opera will continue to monitor government policy changes, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, government mandates, and public health notices and make changes as necessary or appropriate to ensure the safety of patrons, artists, and staff.

Social Distancing

Tickets are sold as “pods” that can accommodate either two or four people in one party. All pods will be safely distanced from each other under the Big Tent.

Stanchions, signage, and barriers will be used throughout the venue to ensure social distancing is maintained for all audience members.

Shortened Performances

In order to limit exposure, all performances are only 65 minutes in length.

Face Coverings

Regardless of vaccination status, everyone will be required to wear a face covering at all times, both inside and outside the tent for the duration of the performance(s). Click here for mask safety recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health Screenings

Patrons will be required to take a Health Screening Questionnaire either before arriving or on-site. Temperature checks will also be conducted prior to entry.

Reduced Contact

Ticket scanning, temperature checks, and safety screenings will be contactless and staff will be equipped with masks, face shields, and gloves to keep you safe.

Enhanced Cleaning

Hand washing and sanitizing stations will be dispersed throughout the outdoor venue and personal hand sanitizers will be available at each pod. Seats, tables, bathrooms, and every check-in station will be fully sanitized prior to and following each performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’re here to help

We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions that will help you navigate through this new experience. If you don’t see an answer to your question, please contact us at info@atlantaopera.org and we’ll be happy to assist you!

Location

The Big Tent at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

All performances will be presented in a large, ventilated, open-sided tent. The tent is located in the parking lot of Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

El Dancairo
(Apr 15 – May 2)

El Dancairo
(May 6 – 8)

El Remendado

Frasquita

Mercedes

Lilas Pastia

Tom Key

Flamenco Dancer

Composer

Georges Bizet (1838 – 1875)

Georges Bizet, original name Alexandre-César-Léopold Bizet (born October 25, 1838, Paris, France—died June 3, 1875, Bougival, near Paris), French composer best remembered for his opera Carmen (1875). His realistic approach influenced the verismo school of opera at the end of the 19th century.

Bizet’s father was a singing teacher and his mother a gifted amateur pianist, and his musical talents declared themselves so early and so unmistakably that he was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire before he had completed his 10th year. There, his teachers included the accomplished composers Charles Gounod and Fromental Halévy, and he quickly won a succession of prizes, culminating in the Prix de Rome, awarded for his cantata Clovis et Clotilde in 1857. This prize carried with it a five-year state pension, two years of which musicians were bound to spend at the French Academy in Rome.

Bizet had already shown a gift for composition far superior to that of a merely precocious boy. His first stage work, the one-act operetta Le Docteur miracle, performed in Paris in 1857, is marked simply by high spirits and an easy mastery of the operetta idiom of the day. His Symphony in C Major, however, written in 1855 but subsequently lost and not discovered and performed until 1935, will bear easy comparison with any of the works written at the same age of 17 by either Mozart or Felix Mendelssohn. Flowing and resourceful counterpoint, orchestral expertise, and a happy blend of the Viennese classical style with French melody give the symphony a high place in Bizet’s output.

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The young composer was already aware of his gifts and of the danger inherent in his facility. “I want to do nothing chic,” he wrote from Rome, “I want to have ideas before beginning a piece, and that is not how I worked in Paris.” In Rome he set himself to study Robert Schumann, Carl Maria von Weber, Mendelssohn, and Gounod, who was regarded as more than half a German composer by the admirers of the fashionable French composer Daniel Auber.

Mozart’s music affects me too deeply and makes me really unwell. Certain things by Rossini have the same effect; but oddly enough Beethoven and Meyerbeer never go so far as that. As for Haydn, he has sent me to sleep for some time past.

Instead of spending his statutory third year in Germany, he chose to stay on in Rome, where he collected impressions that were eventually collected to form a second C major symphony (Roma), first performed in 1869. An Italian-text opera, Don Procopio, written at this time, shows Donizetti’s style, and the ode Vasco de Gama is largely modeled on Gounod and Meyerbeer.

When Bizet returned to Paris in the autumn of 1860, he was accompanied by his friend Ernest Guiraud, who was to be responsible for popularizing Bizet’s work after his death. In spite of very decided opinions, Bizet was still immature in his outlook on life (youthfully cynical, for instance, in his attitude toward women) and was plagued by an artistic conscience that accused him of preferring the facilely charming in music to the truly great. He was even ashamed of his admiration for the operas of his Italian contemporary Giuseppe Verdi and longed for the faith and vision of the typical Romantic artist, which he could never achieve. “I should write better music,” he wrote in October 1866 to his friend and pupil Edmond Galabert, “if I believed a lot of things which are not true.” In fact the skepticism and materialism of the dominant Positivist philosophy persistently troubled Bizet; it may well have been an inability to reconcile his intelligence with his emotions that caused him to embark on so many operatic projects that he never brought to a conclusion. The kind of drama demanded by the French operatic public of the day could very seldom engage his whole personality. The weaknesses in the first two operas that he completed after his return to Paris are a result not so much of the composer’s excessive regard for public taste as of his flagging interest in the drama. Neither Les Pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers; first performed 1863) nor La Jolie Fille de Perth (1867; The Fair Maid of Perth) had a libretto capable of eliciting or focusing the latent musical and dramatic powers that Bizet eventually proved to possess. The chief interest of Les Pêcheurs de perles lies in its exotic Oriental setting and the choral writing, which is more individual than that of the lyrical music, over which Gounod still casts a long shadow. Although La Jolie Fille de Perth bears only a skeletal resemblance to Sir Walter Scott’s novel, the characterization is stronger (the gypsy Mab and the “Danse bohémienne” anticipate Carmen), and even such conventional features as the night patrol, the drinking chorus, the ballroom scene, and the heroine’s madness exhibit a freshness and elegance of language that raise the work unmistakably above the general level of French opera of the day.

Although warmly acknowledged by Berlioz, Gounod, Saint-Saëns, and Liszt, Bizet was still obliged during these years to undertake the musical hackwork that only the most successful French composers were able to avoid. Stories of his moodiness and readiness to pick a quarrel suggest a profound inner uncertainty, and the cynicism and vulnerability of adolescence hardly yielded to a mature emotional attitude of life until his marriage, on June 3, 1869, to Geneviève Halévy, the daughter of the composer of the opera La Juive (1835; The Jewess). Between his engagement in 1867 and his marriage, Bizet was himself aware of undergoing “an extraordinary change . . . both as artist and man. I am purifying myself and becoming better.” Adverse criticism of certain features of La Jolie Fille de Perth prompted him to break once and for all with “the school of flonflons, trills and falsehoods” and to concentrate his attention on the two elements that had always been the strongest features of his music—the creation of exotic atmosphere and the concern with dramatic truth. The first of these was brilliantly exemplified in the one-act Djamileh (1872), original enough to be accused of “exceeding even Richard Wagner in bizarrerie and strangeness”; and the second in the incidental music for Alphonse Daudet’s play L’Arlésienne (1872), which is marked by a delicacy and tenderness quite new to his music. Besides the happiness of his marriage, which was crowned by the birth of a son in July of this same year, his letters show that he was deeply stirred by the events of the Franco-Prussian War, and, during the siege of Paris, he served in the national guard.

Via britannica.com

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Conductor

Jorge Parodi

Internationally acclaimed conductor Jorge Parodi has worked extensively in the Americas and Asia and has led several productions at The Atlanta Opera, Opera Tampa, Savannah Opera, Buenos Aires Lírica (Argentina), the Castleton Festival, The Banff Centre (Canada) and The Juilliard School.  Recent credits include his debut at New York City Opera, Chautauqua Opera and Opera Orlando.  He has led the World Premiéres of Anton Coppola’s Lady Swanwhite for Opera Tampa, and John Musto’s Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt in a coproduction of On-Site Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago Lyric’s Unlimited and Pittsburgh Opera.

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Director

Tomer Zvulun

General and Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera since 2013, Israeli born Tomer Zvulun is also one of leading stage director of his generation, earning consistent praise for his creative vision and innovative interpretations. His work has been presented by prestigious opera houses in Europe, South and Central America, Israel and the US, including The Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas, San Diego, Boston, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Montreal, Buenos Aires, Israeli Opera, and the festivals of Wexford, Glimmerglass and Wolf Trap, as well as leading educational institutes and universities such as The Juilliard School, Indiana University, and Boston University.

Tomer spent seven seasons on the directing staff of the Metropolitan Opera where he directed revivals of Carmen and Tosca and was involved with more than a dozen new productions. He is a frequent guest director in companies such as Seattle Opera (Semele, La Bohème, Eugene Onegin, Lucia di Lammermoor), Dallas Opera (Die Fledermaus, La Bohème), Houston (Flying Dutchman, Rigoletto), Wexford Festival (Silent Night, Dinner at Eight), Cincinnati Opera (Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, Flying Dutchman), Wolf Trap (Falstaff, Don Giovanni), Israeli Opera (Dead Man Walking, Giulio Cesare) among others. His European premiere of Silent Night at the Wexford Festival received two Irish Times Awards and traveled from Ireland to Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival and the opera companies of Atlanta, Austin and Salt Lake City.

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Zvulun directed over 15 new productions in his home company in Atlanta, including Dead Man Walking, Flying Dutchman, Soldier Songs, Silent Night, Maria de Buenos Aires, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Lucia di Lammermoor, Magic Flute, and Eugene Onegin to name but a few. During Tomer’s tenure, the company’s fundraising has tripled, resulting in twice the number of productions presented annually. His focus on innovation has garnered national attention and resulted in a Harvard Business School case study chronicling The Atlanta Opera’s turnaround, an International Opera Awards nomination, an ArtsATL Luminary Award, and an invitation to deliver a TEDx Talk about innovation in opera.

His upcoming projects include a new Rigoletto in Houston; a new Salome in Atlanta and Kansas City; revivals of his acclaimed production of Eugene Onegin in Montreal, Seattle and Palm Beach; Silent Night at Utah Opera; and Madama Butterfly and Glory Denied in Atlanta. He is currently working on developing a world premiere based on Anne Frank’s Diary and Sensorium Ex, a world premiere based on a story about artificial intelligence.

Tomer’s recent shows have traveled across continents, receiving critical acclaim for their striking visuals and cinematic quality. Some of them included The Flying Dutchman (Houston, Cincinnati, Atlanta), Dinner at Eight (Wexford Festival, Minnesota Opera), Eugene Onegin (Seattle, Atlanta, Detroit, Kansas City), Lucia di Lammermoor (Seattle, Atlanta, Cleveland) Silent Night (Wexford, Atlanta, Glimmerglass, Washington, Austin), Soldier Songs (Atlanta, San Diego), Dead Man Walking (New Orleans, Atlanta), La Bohème (Seattle, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Atlanta, Dallas), Lucrezia Borgia (Buenos Aires), Gianni Schicchi (Juilliard, IVAI Tel Aviv), L’heaure Espagnole (Juilliard), Magic Flute (Cincinnati, Atlanta, Indiana University), Don Giovanni (Wolf Trap, Cincinnati), Die Fledermaus (Dallas, Kansas City), Falstaff (Wolf Trap, Des Moines), Rigoletto (Boston, Atlanta, Omaha, Charlotte), Madama Butterfly (Atlanta, Castleton Festival, New Orleans), Tosca (National Theatre Panama, Atlanta) and Semele (Seattle).

Tomer Zvulun was born and raised in Israel, attended the open University in Tel Aviv and Harvard Business School and makes his home in Atlanta.

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