How not to sell a new Carmen

How not to sell a new Carmen


norman lebrecht

June 29, 2017

This is a brilliant press release for Bregenz’s forthcoming Carmen.

Despite naming a host of irrelevant pop celebrities, it fails to mention who’s singing Carmen.

Read, and wonder.


UK: Wednesday 28th June 2017 – Event Cinema specialists CinemaLive are pleased to announce they are working in partnership with C-Major Entertainment to bring George Bizet’s Carmen on the Lake (Bregenz, Austria) to close to 300 cinemas in the UK on Thursday 14  September.

This will be a uniquely staged spectacle under CinemaLive’s recently launched brand The World’s Most Spectacular Operas that showcases stunning operas from around the globe in cinemas, making them accessible to UK audiences.

Seebühne (or floating stage), with its 7,000 seat open-air amphitheatre, is the location for the French composers most successful opera. With a set designed by British artist Es Devlin, who has designed sets for stars such as Adele, U2, Take That and Kanye West, the stage sits on the water near the shores of the stunning Lake Constance in Austria. This romantic and dramatic setting regularly welcomes opera lovers from all over the world, where the productions are extravagantly original and innovative and frequently use the waters of the lake as an extension of the stage.

For stage director Kasper Holten, the former Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House, this “opera about destiny and obsession” centres on “two people who are treated as outsiders, whose paths cross and who cling to each other in a passionate but unhealthy relationship.”

Georges Bizet’s captivating music, with its instantly recognisable Spanish sounds is known to one and all. Music directors Paolo Carignani and Jordan de Souza will lead the musical direction of this production, with the Bregenz Festival Chorus and Prague Philharmonic Choir accompanied by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.

For the past 5 years, CinemaLive have distributed Opera Australia’s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour productions to cinema audiences in the UK & Ireland. These productions have now been seen by over 75,000 people on the big screen. Productions have included Madama Butterfly, Turandot and Aida (which in 2015 broke the UK & Irish box office record to become the highest grossing recorded opera of all time).

Close to 300 cinemas across the UK will screen Carmen on the Lake captured in Bregenz, Austria on Thursday 14 September. For participating cinemas visit

photo: Bregenzer Festspiele / Dietmar Mathis


UPDATE: Five days later, full casting has been announced:


Gaëlle Arquez

Don José

Daniel Johansson


Scott Hendricks


Elena Tsallagova


Jana Baumeister


Marion Lebègue


Sebastien Soulès


Rafael Fingerlos


Simeon Esper


Dariusz Perczak


  • Olassus says:

    Micaëla — Cristina Pasaroiu | Melissa Petit | Elena Tsallagova
    Carmen — Gaëlle Arquez | Lena Belkina | Annalisa Stroppa
    Don José — Daniel Johansson | Martin Muehle | Arnold Rawls
    Escamillo — Andrew Foster-Williams | Scott Hendricks | Kostas Smoriginas

  • Anonymouse says:

    This “opera about destiny and obsession” centres on “two people who are treated as outsiders, whose paths cross and who cling to each other in a passionate but unhealthy relationship.”

    How so? Carmen spends the whole second half of the opera telling Don José to sling his hook. In case Kasper Holten hadn’t noticed, he stabs her so Escamillo can’t have her.

  • Kasper Holten says:

    Dear Norman, only now it is being finally settled which cast sings which performances, so that hasn’t been announced yet. As you quote from the press release for the cinema broadcast, this audience will only see one of the three casts, and it has therefore not been possible to mention who sings the roles at this point. @Anonymouse: let us discuss the staging and interpretation once it opens. All best, Kasper

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Dear Kasper, I take your point. And I did enjoy your ROH Otello cast last night. all best, Norman

  • Sue says:

    What a beautiful venue there in Bregenz; I was there in 2015 but not for the opera performance, just to look at the venue. Right there on the lack and absolutely perfect. What’s not to love about Austria in general??!!