Kent Opera production of CarMen
An adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen
University of Worcester, Drama Studio 1st February 2017
Kent Opera performed their production of CarMen at University of Worcester on 1st February 2017. The production was the first in the university’s series of performances by visiting companies in semester two of 2016/17. The studio was full to capacity. The series is open to all drama students at the university, but students from three particular modules were encouraged to attend this particular performance. Students of the Music Theatre module (2nd year) were interested in how music articulates drama and how music fills out the emotional or psychological world of the characters. Students of the Sexuality in Performance module (3rd year) were particularly interested in the ‘all-male’ aspect of the production and the same sex love affair that such a change in characters from the original brings to the fore. The third group were from the Devising and Adaptation, a production module (2nd year), that takes an original text/performance and adapts it through specific devising techniques into a show of their own. The Devising and Adaptation students were adapting Bizet’s Carmen into a physical and visual theatre production and so the Kent Opera production stood as an example of adaptation, giving them much to consider in terms of how narrative arcs and dramaturgical details change in the process of adaptation.
The production was very well received. Students were particularly impressed with the experience of the live operatic voice and its emotional power, something they had found inaccessible through watching documentation of Bizet’s original on DVD. The presence of live musicians was also very important to their reading of the work. The musicianship was excellent. In terms of dramatic performance, the relationship between Carmen and José was particularly well portrayed. There was a tangible energy between the performers. This central relationship was also where new insight was found in terms of dramaturgy in adaptation. Jose became a much less sympathetic character and the relationship became characterised by violence and manipulation from both sides.
The company worked very professionally in preparing the performance, spending time in the afternoon setting up in the studio and making use, it being ‘pop-up’ opera, of whatever props were available. They collaborated well with the technicians in plotting the lights. They also gave generously of their time with a pre-performance talk and a post-performance Q&A, during which students were able to interrogate the production from various angles.
Dr Daniel Somerville
University of Worcester
Department of Drama and Performance