An up-to-the-minute Carmen on the US-Mexico border

An up-to-the-minute Carmen on the US-Mexico border


norman lebrecht

July 21, 2018

From Bloomberg News:

(Valentina) Carrasco has reimagined Carmen against the backdrop of America’s current immigration crisis. Her show is set at a Mexico-U.S. border wall and opens with children being torn from parents by ICE agents. There’s a dead border-crosser in a body bag, real-life radio broadcasts, and later, a torn-up American flag. It’s an astonishing, riveting production that addresses xenophobia, the #MeToo movement, women’s power, domestic abuse, and the more general issue of making opera relevant again…

Read on here.

photo: Yasuko Kageyama/Opera di Roma


  • Ellingtonia says:

    Caasco has “reimagined” Carmen…………..oh, FFS not another PC virtue signalling tosser. Has no one explained to him that opera is fantasy, its not real, its escapism and meant to the taken with a large pinch of salt.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Well, that didn’t take long. Another CNN take on opera production. Predictable, opportunistic, boring.

    (Not condoning in any way the barbaric and deplorable cruelty taking place at the border.)

    • Ellingtonia says:

      But you seem implicitly to be condoning the illegal entrance to the USA of thousands of would be “migrants”………….or does law breaking become immaterial?

      • Bruce says:

        ^ Right, because “separate them and put them in cages” and “let the entire world in without restriction” are the ONLY TWO POSSIBLE OPTIONS.


      • Caravaggio says:

        Not at all. I do not condone a free for all. But it is a complex issue for many reasons. One of them is that the US is a country of immigrants both legal and illegal. Were today’s immigrants Norwegian, say, the administration’s response would be quite different, I am willing to bet. So we cannot avoid acknowledging that the inhumane response we have been seeing is tainted by racism. As for Europe, the populist response we are seeing is the unintended and unexpected response to the very stupid EU and Merkel. What were they thinking? They and only they are responsible for a Europe going right wing, I feel.

  • Brian says:

    Yes – God forbid a company try and allow opera to address contemporary social issues and speak to people’s lives (much as opera and theater have done for centuries).

    • Caravaggio says:

      Except that the work has nothing whatsoever to do with the current US administration’s border policy.

    • Ms.Melody says:

      Let them write a new opera ,addressing pressing social issues instead of messing with the classics.

  • Bruce says:

    Sometimes things like this work, and sometimes they don’t. Whether it works or not is usually in the eye of the beholder.

    This kind of thing is nothing new with Shakespeare. I remember seeing a production of Julius Caesar set in a modern-day banana republic. The fact that everyone was wearing camouflage uniforms, berets, and mirror sunglasses did nothing to decrease the believability of all the plotting & intrigue.

    I would submit that, simply because an adaptation is up-to-the-minute, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s stupid. (It might, of course; but there are plenty of stupid traditional productions too.)

    • Ms.Melody says:

      The only time Carmen can be boring is if it is badly sung , played and acted. The music is sublime, the story is compelling and powerful enough to carry the day. It does not require insertion of the latest political news, latest fads and transfer to another location to make relevant. Bizet and his librettist as well as the source(Merime) have done it over a hundred years ago. When will regie directors realize that they are simply not talented or good enough to improve on the original?
      For now, povera Carmen and povero Bizet

  • Robert Hairgrove says:

    What’s wrong with some of you critics here? Would you also criticize the composers and other artists listed here who incorporated “La Marseillaise” into their works? At the time, this could have had dire consequences (for Schumann, for example):

  • william osborne says:

    Every weekday in Deming, New Mexico, the town where I grew up on our family farm, over 500 children from Palomas, Mexico cross the border to go to school in Deming or a nearby village called Columbus. This has gone on since the 1950s. Each student in NM costs over $10,000 per year so the cost of teaching these 500 kids is over 5 million dollars per year. And almost all the people in Deming are happy for it because they want to help these children.

    Almost all the students speak English as a secondary language, so the schools have a big staff of suitable teachers who speak Spanish. Deming stands entirely apart from the appalling policies currently being enacted by Trump. And this even though NM is the poorest state in the nation (or among the botton 4 depnding on the year,) and Deming in the poorest county in NM. The children in Mexico are even worse off, so Deming helps them. This is always what I associated with the American spirit. One can read about Deming educating Mexican children in the article below.

    I so wish the people in Deming could see this production of Carmen. I hope I can get down to Rome at some point and see it.

    • Sue says:

      This sounds like a very admirable thing for them to be doing, just as long as they don’t EXPECT others in the USA to be doing it as well. There’s an old saying, and it’s a good one; ‘charity begins at home’.

      • V.Lind says:

        Typical American attitude. Charity does begin at home, in the US in particular. Which is why so many other enlightened democracies support paying taxes to help those in need, because some of them do not have homes for people to begin their charity in — and other, levelling benefits to society chosen by elected processes and not by the well-endowed but home-loving classes.

      • william osborne says:

        The funding for these Mexican children comes from local (county) tax funding given to the school district. The state of New Mexico also contributes to help educate the children. (There are no private donations, it’s all done with local and state taxes.) Having well-educated people across the border who also speak English has been very helpful for Deming’s ecomony, though the town remains quite poor.

        I agree with V. Lind that public funding is generally a more effective way to address social issues than private donations.

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    And yet those poor bulls are still dying in the ring. . .