At the end of Act III of Georges Bizet’s classic opera, Carmen, the bullfighter Escamillo and Don José get into a knife fight, going back and forth before it looks likes like José is about to have the upper hand and kill Escamillo. Carmen and others arrive to break up the fight, and before Escamillo leaves, he invites anyone who loves him — with an eye toward Carmen — to attend his bullfight in Seville. He strolls away singing “The Toreador Song.”
The scene is an apt metaphor for the Nashville Opera as it stages Carmen this week, April 6 and 8, at TPAC. The fight for Escamillo was risky and could have gone either way. He’s a bullfighter. That’s what he does best. At one point even he even says that. For the Nashville Opera, its world premiere production earlier this year of Three Way* was also risky. Contemporary, focused on modern life and sung in English, it could have gone either way for the audience. But imagine Nashville Opera walking away from it, relatively unscathed, and inviting its audience to Carmen a few months later. “Anyone who loves us, come join us at Jackson Hall!” as they whistle “Habanera.” We do and we should.
Ginger Costa-Jackson, the mezzo who’s made a career of playing Carmen, and with good reason, will make her Nashville Opera debut in the iconic role. Word from NowPlayingNashville.com staffers who attended rehearsal is that she’s fantastic. Noah Stewart, a tenor who local audiences will remember from his performance as Rodolfo in Nashville Opera’s 2014 production of Puccini’s La Bohème, takes on the role of Don José. Check out his stylish shoot and profile in Italian Vogue. The cast also features Laura Wilde, Edward Parks, Jeffrey Williams and the Opera’s four Mary Ragland Young Artists. John Hoomes directs; William Boggs conducts.
Nashville Opera’s production of Carmen takes places April 6 at 7 p.m. and April 8 at 8 p.m. at TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Theatre. Sung in French with English subtitles. Four acts, two 20-minute intermissions.
*Three Way, which premiered with the Nashville Opera in January, will make its New York premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in June.