An all-male CarMen is coming our way

An all-male CarMen is coming our way


norman lebrecht

June 06, 2014

Now that’s a role I’ve always coveted. Details below.




El Vacie, Seville, 1920

Set in the gay community of liberal 1920s Spain, Don José is the central character in this all-male reworking of Bizet’s tragic opera.  Sexually confused and dominated by the strictly religious upbringing imposed by his mother, he has come from the country to Seville to get a glimpse of the young man he has idolised from afar, the dancer, Carmen.

Two simple events change the course of their lives.  Carmen, a hedonistic player, chooses the simple man as his sexual plaything that night.  José falls in love – but Carmen already has his eye on the famous matador, Escamillo..

With pent-up rage and jealousy, he watches as the dancer and the matador flirt before his very eyes.  At that moment, news comes that the one person who can control him, his mother, is near death.

With the shackles of maternal and religious influence removed, there is nothing to prevent Don José from taking what he has always wanted.


With homosexual, religious and psychological themes, this intimate production involving just five singers shows Bizet’s tale of love, passion, jealousy and anger between men.  Performed in the round, with the audience on scene and free to move around the action, Secret Opera will give an unforgettable and heart-rending experience to all.


Sung in English with piano accompaniment by Andrew Charity.  Design by Richard Cooper, costumes by Natalie Lewis, directed by Robin Pietà. The opera is double cast, featuring company regulars alongside new artists for this project.


The performances run from June 30th to July 6th at the Studio Theatre, the Poor School . Internet interest in this unusual production has been high.


  • Geoffrey John says:


  • Tim Walton says:


  • Aaron Kernaghan says:

    I have nothing against an opera that is about gay themes. But I ask myself – why do it this way? Why not write a new piece, be conceptual and consider a fresh way to tell a fresh story. Is it not a great thing that in the modern era we in opera can tell stories we previously might not have chosen to or might not have been able to? Why reach back into the wellspring of the past to convert and adapt an existing piece to fit our new story? Why not just be genuinely creative and truthful and write a piece for the here and now? Must we go back? Let us go forward and advance opera in that way.

  • Aaron Kernaghan says:

    I like that opera can be forward looking, but let’s opera-forward be about new music, new operas and new talent, not simply newly decorating an old story with old music. I love carmen the score, but I have no misconceptions that it’s a master work. It’s just very enjoyable. Why not write a new Carmen for the world. Not like there aren’t plenty of stories around now for which that could easily be done.

    Trying to write a gay opera by using a famous and popular score is really a cultural cringe that seeks to make the authority and popularity of the score a de-facto to the project – hoping to soften the blow? Why should they? Be bold. Go big or go home. This is the sort of stuff that stops Opera from being the fierce thing it should be.

  • Tim Walton says:

    I went to the first night of this production & really enjoyed it.

    The production was well thought out – more so than some London productions at CG & ENO!

    You felt really involved being so close to the performers who made it feel really believable.

    Well done to all those involved