Calixto Bieito gets ready to shock America

The eye-catching Catalan director brings his Carmen to San Francisco this month, his Forza del Destino to the Met in 2017-18.

Carmen, a staple at ENO since 2012, is the one set in Franco’s Spain where soldiers could do with women more or less as they pleased. Not terribly shocking.

Still, they’re getting excited in San Fran: That is why San Francisco Opera’s premiere of a Bieito production is so important. This is not just a violent, sexy production of Carmen; it’s the possibility of a different approach to opera — an approach that will help opera survive as a relevant medium by combining stunning, old scores with modern social commentary. San Francisco Opera is taking a brave first step; it’s up to us to attend, applaud and ask for more.


eno carmen

Bieito’s Carmen will also be staged at the Boston Opera House on September 23, 2016.

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  • Once air heads like Ilana are given a voice this is what to expect ,writing displaying
    ignorance to the art on a grand scale .Bieito has fun being outrageous.The stupids
    mistake this for a new approach to producing opera . Its the age …the more ignorant
    the more space to display it .

  • He stages the same piece for 20 years now…only the “soundtrack”changing from production to production….

  • I help organise buses for hundreds of opera goers up/down the motorway to a major Spanish opera house but have now made the decision, following protests, to boycott productions by these “theatrical hooligans”. We recently suffered a production of Samson & “Al Qaeda” (sic) (with a pregnant woman, hanging above the stage, and disembowelling her foetus onto the stage below – this during the Baccanale scene). Earlier Samson had had congress with Dalila with 3 naked couples writhing beneath the table. Don’t ask why, just accept that we felt insulted. There are others on our black list. Wait until Bieito offers the US his revolting version of “B*ll*cks in maschera” (sic !!!)

  • Bite’s “Carmen” is not too weird or shocking- unless you count the naked male dancer during the interlude, but there’s a good, contextual explanation for that which I would hope will be in the program. It wasn’t in Barcelona, and it left most of the audience baffled as the custom wasn’t known in Catalunya!- but it was full of the usual “Bieto-isms”, meaning, men hopping around on old Mercedes automobiles, folks waiving some Spanish national flag around, and in this one, the Gypsies are smuggling flat screen TVs and microwave ovens! The updates in time and costuming are OK and the bit of staging with the crowd using the rope as holdback-to-bull ring is extremely clever.
    As an intro to Bieto, “Carmen” is just fine!

    • I agree; this is Bieito lite. There will still be pearl-clutching in San Francisco, but that’s part of the fun! And I think it’s a good step in the right direction towards bringing more European Regietheater directors to US houses.

    • The dancer wore a thong at ENO. But do tell us more about the custom ‘unknown in Catalunya’. And did Bieito do the Ring with the gods on the top of warehouse trucks? A disaster!

  • Ugh, sorry for the typo. That was supposed to be BIEITO’S “Carmen”… My autocorrect is vicious today!

  • I love ‘eye-catching’, meaning ‘overrated and utterly devoid of any talent’.

  • It’s not so important but… Bieto is not Catalan. He was born in the middle of the old Castilla. It’s true that his work in Spain has been mainly in Catalonia, but, in this days, he is much more known for his operatic work in German theatres than in Spain, For instance, he has staged only one production in Madrid’s Teatro Real (Wozzeck, in 2007), and the audience has not very good remembrances.

    • But what’s his ethnic background? Calixto Bieito certainly doesn’t look like a Castilian name. Galician, perhaps?

  • Calixto Bieito. How tiresome. I spent the weekend babysitting my nephew, who can use his age as an excuse for taking delight in being outrageous for the sake of attracting attention.

    I guess some people never grow out of that phase.

  • I loved it!! Carmen is not about romance or love, but rather power (Carmen) and lust (Don Jose), and this production had it all

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