Bizet's CARMEN Comes to The Atlanta Opera

By: Apr. 04, 2018

The Atlanta Opera continues its mainstage season with Georges Bizet's Carmen, perhaps the best-loved opera of all time.

Known for its passion, fire, and tragedy as well as some of the most well-known music in the canon, The Atlanta Opera's production features an all-star cast, including Varduhi Abrahamyan as Carmen in her U.S. debut, and tenor Gianluca Terranova as Don José. Arthur Fagen, The Carl and Sally Gable Music Director for The Atlanta Opera, will conduct, and Brenna Corner, The Jerry and Dulcy Rosenberg Young Artist Stage Director makes her Atlanta Opera directorial debut.

The Atlanta Opera presents Carmen on April 28, May 1, 4, and 6 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Tickets start at $35 (before tax) and can be purchased at or by calling 404-881-8885. The opera will be performed in French with English supertitles.

Based on the novella by Prosper Mérimée, Carmen tells the story of a free-spirited gypsy who makes men melt. When the naïve Don José falls for her, he falls hard into a dangerous obsession. But the reckless Carmen cannot be tamed, and she grows weary of Don José once she meets the glamorous toreador, Escamillo, completing a tragic love triangle.

"Carmen is an opera based in realism that focuses a lens on the human condition," said Brenna Corner, stage director for Carmen. "There are so many conventions that surround this great piece, the trick becomes which conventions help tell our story, and which don't. The characters are complex, diverse, and real. They are flawed individuals who are also victims of tragic circumstance."

Corner will work with renowned opera choreographer Amir Levy to produce the gritty, earthy style of the gypsies of Bizet's time. Corner also noted that she and her team will look to history for inspiration. At the time Bizet wrote the score, Spain's government was undergoing major changes, marking the end of the First Spanish Republic. "We want to explore what kind of tensions were happening between the citizens--especially gypsies--and the soldiers," said Corner.

"Carmen is one of the most beloved operas of all time with good reason - it's combination of passion, well-known tunes (such as the "Toreador Song" and "Habanera"), brilliant orchestration, and depiction of romance, gypsies and toreadors makes it a sure-fire hit with the audience," said Arthur Fagen, The Carl and Sally Gable Music Director for The Atlanta Opera and conductor of Carmen.

Franco-Armenian mezzo-soprano Varduhi Abrahamyan makes her U.S. and company debut as Carmen, a role she has performed to great acclaim at the Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Opernhaus Zürich, and Paris Opera, to name a few. Hailed by Opera News as an artist who "[tackles] her bravura arias with dauntless courage and accuracy," Abrahamyan recently made her debut as Mrs. Quickly in Falstaff and Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera at Opéra Bastille. Other recent credits include several roles at the Paris Opera, including Isabella (L'Italiana in Algeri), Ottone (L'incoronazione di Poppea), and Cornelia (Giulio Cesare), among others. She also recently performed Dalila (Samson et Dalila) at Palau de les Arts in Valencia under the baton of Roberto Abbado and Plácido Domingo.

Tenor Gianluca Terranova, last seen at The Atlanta Opera in Turandot (2017), will return as Don José. Terranova was recently hailed for his "impressive role debut as Calaf, bringing a sense of confidence, competence and ease to his first performance of the challenging part" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution). A native of Rome, Terranova is known for portraying the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto. In 2010, he made his debut at the Teatro all Scala in Milan singing the role under the baton of James Conlon. Other recent credits include Rodolfo (La bohème) at The Atlanta Opera, Edgardo (Lucia di Lammermoor) at Oper Frankfurt, Alfredo (La traviata) at Teatro Filarmonico di Verona, and Tonio (La fille du regiment) at Teatro Verdi Trieste, among others.

Soprano Nicole Cabell, one of the most sought-after lyric sopranos of today, will sing the role of Micaëla. Cabell was last seen at The Atlanta Opera in a "star performance" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) as Juliet in Gonoud's Romeo and Juliet (2016). Cabell is the 2005 Winner of the BBC Singer of the World Competition in Cardiff and she has performed in many leading opera houses concert halls around the world, including the Dutch National Opera, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, Minnesota Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, and the Grand Théâtre de Genève.

Baritone Edward Parks returns to The Atlanta Opera as the bullfighter, Escamillo. Parks recently completed an acclaimed performance as Steve Jobs in the world premiere of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs at Santa Fe Opera, as well as an engagement at the Metropolitan Opera as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia. He has performed with many opera companies around the world, including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Minnesota Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, North Carolina Opera, Opera de Monte Carlo, and sang the role of Schaunard in the Metropolitan Opera's 2001 tour of La bohème in Japan.

About The Atlanta Opera

The Atlanta Opera is one of the finest regional opera companies in the nation. In 2013, the company recruited internationally recognized stage director Tomer Zvulun as its General and Artistic Director. In the 2014-2015 season, the company launched the acclaimed Discoveries series of operas staged in alternative theaters around Atlanta. The program was recognized by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as part of its Best of 2015 awards and the company was nominated for the International Opera Awards in London in 2016. The Discoveries series has grown from three to sixteen performances in the past four seasons. In the 2016-2017 season, the company expanded its mainstage season from three to four productions at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The Opera works with world-renowned singers, conductors, directors, and designers who seek to enhance the art form and make it accessible for a sophisticated, 21st century audience. The Atlanta Opera was founded in 1979 and to this day adheres to its mission to enrich lives through opera.

Running time is approximately 3 hours and 20 minutes, including 2 intermissions.

The Atlanta Opera recognizes The Home Depot Foundation as a production sponsor and sponsor of the company's Veterans ticketing program. The Atlanta Opera also recognizes Coca-Cola as the opening night sponsor. This production is sponsored by Nancy and Jim** Bland. Varduhi Abrahamyan is sponsored by The Laura & Montague Boyd Foundation, Nicole Cabell is sponsored by Triska Drake and G. Kimbrough Taylor, and Gianluca Terranova is sponsored by Rhys T. and Carolyn Wilson.



Composed by Georges Bizet

Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy

Creative Team

Conductor Arthur Fagen

Stage Director Brenna Corner

Choreographer Amir Levy

Scenic Designer Allen Charles Klein

Costumes Coordinator Joanna Schmink

Lighting Designer Robert Wierzel


Carmen Varduhi Abrahamyan*

Don José Gianluca Terranova

Escamillo Edward Parks

Micaëla Nicole Cabell

Zuniga David Crawford

*Atlanta Opera Debut


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