Carmen from Cuba by Levan Tsuladze
On April 20, 21, 27 and May 4, the State Opera House of Georgia is showing the world-renowned ‘Carmen’. Georges Bizet’s masterpiece is the first opera production that well-known dramatic director Levan (Chola) Tsuladze has staged.
This is the second opera to be released during the 165th anniversary season, a totally new version of Carmen in terms of scenography and conception. The action takes place in Cuba; where a gypsy woman who loves freedom, dwells.
The director is famous for his humor and has managed to present it even here, though reservedly. In the smoke of cigars, the naïve soldier is so comic that he becomes tragic. And music… Music everywhere, and so divine.
“You cannot even imagine in what a sphere, full of unexpected events, I found myself,” Levan Tsuladze told GEORGIA TODAY. “I realized that all the knowledge that I had would be useless. My main fault was that I thought that music was as much able to subordinate to interpretation as drama. Finally, music goes where it should go. Technically speaking, this stage is really very good. It has limitless possibilities. I changed the mood only: this is Cuba”.
The orchestra is conducted by Zaza Azmaiparashvili; Set Designer: Irakli Avaliani; Choreographer: Gia Margania; Costume Designer: Polina Roudchik. Apart from the invited world class artists- Anita Rachvelishvili (Mezzo-Soprano) and George Oniani (Tenor) -the stage is to witness the leading actors of the State Opera House of Georgia, Nikoloz Lagvilava and Irina Taboridze, as well as the choir, the ballet troupe and orchestra.
Anita Rachvelishvili is acknowledged as one of the best Carmens in the world. GEORGIA TODAY had the pleasure to talk to her: “For me, this is a very important character, as everything began with this role in my career- in La Scala in 2009. Consequently, Carmen is of utmost importance to me. Plus, it’s a role I love. I’m happy to be collaborating with Mr. Oniani, whom I’ve met several times and who is one of the best tenors in the world. I’m also happy that we are all Georgians in this version. I am also very glad that Badri Maisuradze [artistic director of the Opera House] indulges us with such fantastic performances”.
“Carmen was my first performance in Europe,” George Oniani told GEORGIA TODAY. “I won a contest and was offered a part in Carmen which I studied in one month. I don’t speak French and so I found it difficult, but I managed. Our public [in Georgia] has been waiting for new performances for so many years that the mood here is truly festive. I don’t feel like a foreigner- I think that even after so many years a career overseas, this is my native theater and I’m glad to see its revival”.
Nikoloz Lagvilava, Baritone, plays the part of Escamillo. “This opera is very important for me, as it has boosted my European career a lot,” he told us. “The part of Escamillo was triumphant for me at the Moscow Bolshoi. Soon, I’ll be singing it in France. This is my favorite part. This version of staging is very professional, modern and interesting and I’m happy it gives us room for interpretation, something I really cherish.”
Irina Taboridze, Soprano, sings the role of Micaela: “The music is brilliant, which feels one with plenty of positive energy. The modern version makes it differently interesting. This approach I daresay, somehow changes the heroes too, as the costumes do not correspond standards, i.e. they do not correspond the epoch when it was written. Consequently, all the sets are modern too. I have had a wonderful chance to have sung with remarkable singers.”
The premier of Georges Bizet’s immortal opera took place in 1875, in Paris, on the stage of Opera Comique. The stage of the State Opera House of Georgia hosted the same opera exactly ten years later, which acquired a brisk popularity. Since then, a lot of versions have been staged on the Georgian stage. According to the statistics of the world theaters within the past 5 years, ‘Carmen’ is the most popular and most frequently staged operas in the world.
By Maka Lomadze
Photos by Gia Gogatishvili