Starting Saturday, the story of Carmen by French composer Georges Bizet traces soldier Don José’s vengeful romance with Carmen, a gypsy he meets in southern Spain after running away from the northern part of the country.
“The south of Spain is a different country than the north of Spain,” said Stage Director Jeffrey Buchman, of Miami. “While Don José finds his whole world a bit revolting and uncomfortable [in Seville], Carmen bewitches him and pulls him in. He gives up his existence for her.”Buchman’s wife, Rosa Mercedes, is a Spanish Flamenco dancer-turned-choreographer, who choreographed “Carmen.”“
In addition to adult dancers, we’ve also put a child dancer in the show, which adds really wonderful charm and earthiness to the show,” he said. “The focus is on children.” Buchman said there are 18 children in kids’ choir, along with 46 adults.
“At my church, I used to sing in their little choir on Wednesdays and Sundays. They gave me a flyer that said, ‘Audition for Carmen,’” said Audrey Holton, 9, of Sandy Springs. “I just had become obsessed with the opera and I auditioned and made it. It’s such an honor to be in it.”
She said all of the children, who range from about 7 to 15, sing in French.
“I like the story behind Carmen. You can just understand it,” Holton said. She said the show will appeal to children.
Buchman said while it is an opera for all ages, there is a “very profound deep level of things” and it is an adult show.
There are approximately 140 Atlanta locals in the show, including the orchestra, chorus, supers and principals.
Matthew Blouin Davidorf, 11, of Midtown, is part of the children’s choir, along with his brother Luca, 9. They are the sons of Beverly Blouin, an Atlanta Opera singer and voice coach.Matthew Davidorf said he enjoys acting as a street urchin in “Carmen.”
“The story is really cool,” he said. “The singing is really fun because we get to act like crazy kids.” The show has a full orchestra, and Buchman describes the Spanish and military music by Bizet as “visceral and touching.”
There are about 250 costumes in the show, including elaborate bullfighting costumes, and simpler gypsy and “cigarette girl” ensembles.
“The story the opera is based on is actually told retrospectively through the eyes of Don José,” Buchman said. “It allows for beautiful poetic storytelling.”
In four acts, the audience is taken to a tobacco factory in Seville, a tavern in Triana, the mountains and, of course, a bull-fighting ring.
“It’s a fresh, very honest production,” Buchman said. “It’s electrifying at moments.”
If you go:
o What: “Carmen” by the Atlanta Opera
o When: Saturday at 8 p.m., Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Nov 16 at 8 p.m., Nov. 18 at 3 p.m.
o Where: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Pkwy., near Vinings
o Tickets: $48 to $127
o Information: www.atlantaopera.org.