The composer Georges Bizet would also embrace a form of opera that incorporated spoken dialogue for his iconic Carmen. Written a little over a century after The Magic Flute, Carmen continues to be one of the most beloved and performed operas. Arias like Habanera and The Toreador Song are at once familiar, but also fascinating to see in their original context. The audience witnesses the “cigarette girl” Carmen’s full range of emotion--savage fierceness, beguiling sensuality and tragic indifference. The soldier Don José and Carmen have a relationship that is, well, complicated. Is Carmen a feminist hero? A victim without freedom?

Performed in French with English supertitles.


To learn more about CARMEN, click here for the Audience Guide

Georges Bizet’s tragic masterpiece returns to Toledo Opera after a ten-year absence. Carmen, a cigarette factory worker, seduces Don José, an army corporal who falls victim to her feminine wiles. Also vying for Carmen’s attention is the dashing toreador, Escamillo. In the end, Carmen is the victim who succumbs to love and lust. James Meena will conduct an acclaimed international cast, the Toledo Opera Chorus , and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, in this production staged by director Jeffrey Buchman with choreography by Rosa Mercedes.

Alyson Cambridge, Carmen

American soprano Alyson Cambridge, hailed by critics as “radiant, vocally assured, dramatically subtle and compelling, and artistically imaginative” (Washington Post), noted for her “powerful, clear voice” (New York Times) and “revelatory, sensual, smoky readings” (Opera News) is one of the most diverse and compelling vocal artists on the scene today. Her rich, warm soprano, combined with her strikingly beautiful stage presence and affecting musical and dramatic interpretation, have brought her over a decade of successes on the world’s leading opera and concert stages, including The Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Vienna Konzerthaus, among others, as well as recent débuts in Paris, Warsaw, Beijing, and other musical capitals throughout Europe and Asia. This season, Cambridge performs a variety of concerts including the Sisters in Song concert series with Lake Forest Symphony, an American Songbook Concert with The Marcus Center for Performing Arts, From the Diary of Sally Hemings with The Crypt Sessions in NYC, Leading Lady: Heroines of Opera, Broadway, and The Silver Screen with Irvine Barclay Center, and a gala concert with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. She will also perform Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow with Florentine Opera and The Metropolitan Opera, sings in Monticello Overheard with Victory Hall Opera and will perform in Rocktopia on Broadway.

Dario di Vietri, Don José

Dario di Vietri was born Bari, Italy and graduated at the Milan Conservatory under the guidance of Vittorio Terranova. From 2009 to 2011, he was a student of the School of Italian Opera at Teatro Comunale of Bologna and continued his studies with Jaume Aragall, Luciano Pavarotti, and Bruna Baglioni. In 2009- 2010 he made his debut as Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly) in the Theaters of the Circuito Lirico Lombardo. In June 2014, he began his collaboration with Arena di Verona with Calaf (Turandot) conducted by Daniel Oren directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Mr. di Vietri’s major roles include: Cavaradossi (Tosca), Samson (Samson et Dalila), Radames (Aida), Turiddu (Cavalleria Rusticana), Calaf (Turandot), Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly), and Don José (Carmen). Last season, he debuted the role of Renato Des Grieux (Manon Lescaut) at Seoul Arts Center in collaboration with Teatro del Giglio of Lucca and Puccini Foundation Lucca Italy and sang concerts for Festival Palaces in Saint Petersburg and Tbilisi National Opera, Don José (Carmen) at Tang Xianzu International Festival of Fuzhu – China, Riccardo (Un Ballo in Maschera) and Radames (Aida) at Bucharest National Opera, Manrico in Trovatore at Cairo Opera House. In summer 2018, he will sing Cavaradossi (Tosca) at Savonlinna Festival and Festival Puccini of Torre Del Lago and Don José (Carmen) at Lanzhou Theatre in China.

Alex Lawrence, Escamillo

Baritone Alex Lawrence recently made his Vancouver Opera debut in the title role in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and debuted the role of Il Conte in the same opera with Opera Naples in the 2017-18 season. Also last season, Mr. Lawrence sang performances of Carmina Burana with New Orchestra of Washington, Dvořák’s Requiem with Saint George’s Choral Society, and joined pianist Kevin Murphy in recital with the Ravinia Festival and the Tucson Desert Song Festival. In addition, he joined the Ravinia Festival in concerts as a member of the prestigious Ravinia Steans Institute, and sang several concerts with Sherrill Milnes’ Savannah Voice Festival. Mr. Lawrence made his European debut singing The Hunter (Rusalka), Moralès (Carmen), El Tio Sarvaor in De Falla’s La Vida Breve, Sam (Trouble in Tahiti), and L’Ami in Debussy’s rarely performed La Chute de la Maison Usher. Since then, he went on to make several further role debuts in Zürich, including Silvio (Pagliacci), Ned Keene (Peter Grimes), Dancairo (Carmen), the three baritone roles of Bohuslav Martinu’s rarely performed Juliette, and Flemish Deputy in Verdi’s Don Carlo under Fabio Luisi, the title role in Lange’s Das Gespenst von Canterville, and King of The West in Jonathan Dove’s Das Verzauberte Schwein.

James Meena, conductor

James Meena, Toledo Opera’s principal artistic advisor, consistently earns critical acclaim for his artistic vision and dynamic presence on the podium.  Mo. Meena’s guest conducting engagements have included the Washington Opera; the Pittsburgh Opera; L’Opera de Montreal; Michigan Opera Theater; Arizona Opera; the KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, South Korea; the National Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of China; the Pittsburgh Symphony; the Cairo Philharmonic in Egypt; the Grand Rapids Symphony; the Toledo Symphony; the Orchestra of the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Sicily; and, the Orchestra Regionale Toscana in Florence, Italy.  This season, he opened the New York City Opera season with a double bill of Rachmaninov’s Aleko and Pagliacci, as well as his Memphis Symphony Classics debut, and returns to L’Opera de Montreal for La Bohème.

Jeffrey Buchman, director

Constantly pushing the limits of the performing arts, Mr. Buchman’s versatility leads him to a variety of venues to explore some of opera’s classics while also constantly premiering new works. His innovation puts him at the forefront of a new era in directing. This season, Mr. Buchman will direct Le nozze di Figaro and Madama Butterfly at Opera Naples, L’elisir d’amore for the Brancaleoni International Music Festival, Tesla at SoBe Arts, and As One, a new work that Buchman recently directed at Opera Colorado, with Hawaii Opera Theatre. Additionally, this season Buchman has taken the position of Stage Director for the Frost School of Music at University of Miami. Recent engagements include a return to Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music leading a production of Carmen, after having led productions of La bohème and La traviata previously; Die Zauberflöte for Opera Naples, The Academy of Vocal Arts, and Florida Grand Opera, where he also directed productions of Rigoletto and Eugene Onegin; Carmen at Atlanta Opera; Don Giovanni for The Academy of Vocal Arts; a new production of Faust, Turandot, Don Pasquale, and Il trovatore for Opera Naples; Il barbiere di Siviglia for Baltimore Opera; and Tosca with Opera Tampa. Some of these endeavors include his title as Artistic Director of a dynamic multimedia project entitled “Live Arts” at Grand Rapids Symphony. 


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