Although 2017 may just be beginning in the real world, audiences attending the University of Ottawa’s production of Georges Bizet’s Carmen will be transported to the year 2020. There they will find the world is in political turmoil; a Brexit-inspired referendum in France, major debt in Greece and Ireland, and economic and social crises in Russia have resulted in an inevitable discontinuity of the European Union. Canada has sent troops to aid in the stabilization of the issues, which leads to the main storyline of the opera: a Canadian corporal has gone missing, and his mother is desperate for answers. He had recently been visited by a high school sweetheart who reported that he seemed distant and pre‐occupied; she risks another trip to Spain to find out what has happened.
Speaking to the reason for the modern take on this classic opera, acclaimed soprano and the director of uOttawa’s opera company Doreen Taylor-Claxton believes “…art should reflect society back to its audience so they can have a good look at themselves. That philosophy, and the idea that the whole point of art is to help human beings know that they are not alone in their experiences, informs most of my artistic choices”. The decision to revolve the storyline around current events related to the breaking of unity in the European Union makes it relevant to the audience; Taylor-Claxton hopes this production will inspire the need to “…stop and consider what we are doing. We can't afford to take these polarized positions. We need to listen.” The director states that she has been extremely impressed by the talent and professionalism of those performing lead roles in the opera; uOttawa students Alyssa Curto, Lydia Piehl, Jordanne Erichsen, Jeanine Williams, Kevin Burke and Adam Kuiack as well as guest artists Philip Klaassen and Corey Arnold will be the featured soloists.
The singers will be joined by The University of Ottawa chamber orchestra, conducted by Canadian conductor Alain Trudel. Anyone who has worked with Trudel in an opera setting is highly aware of his extensive knowledge of the opera repertoire; the esteemed music director often mouths the lyrics of an entire opera while cueing the various instrument sections, singers, and chorus members. It is a wonderful and unique university experience for orchestra members to get a chance to work with singers and vice versa, and the University of Ottawa is proud to offer the opportunity for both singers and instrumentalists to acquire the experience and knowledge of how a full-scale opera production is built.
This production will be an experience not to be missed! Tickets: www.uottawa-opera.eventbrite.ca
- Erin Pickering