VIDEO: Aigul Akhmetshina and Piotr Beczała Perform “Je vais danser en votre honneur” from Bizet's CARMEN At The Metropolitan Opera

See video of stars Aigul Akhmetshina and Piotr Beczała performing, “Je vais danser en votre honneur”.

By: Dec. 26, 2023
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The Met celebrates the new year with a new production of Bizet's Carmen by acclaimed English director Carrie Cracknell, opening on Sunday, December 31, at 6:30PM. In her highly anticipated Met debut, Cracknell reinvigorates the classic story of deadly passion with a staging that moves the action to modern day and explores themes that could not be more relevant today: gendered violence, abusive labor structures, and the desire to break through societal boundaries. See video of stars Aigul Akhmetshina and Piotr Beczała performing, “Je vais danser en votre honneur”.

For the winter run of performances through January 27, young mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina stars in the complex and volatile title role. Akhmetshina made headlines in 2018 as the youngest artist ever to sing the title role at London's Royal Opera House at just 21 years old and now makes Met history as the youngest lead in a new production of Carmen, at the age of 27. Joining her in the powerhouse quartet of stars are tenor Piotr Beczała as Carmen's troubled lover Don José, soprano Angel Blue as the loyal Micaëla, and bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen as the swaggering Escamillo. Daniele Rustioni conducts Bizet's heart-pounding score.

For the spring run of the production, April 25–May 25, another cast of world-class singers takes over, led by maestro Diego Matheuz who is making his Met debut. Mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine reprises her captivating portrayal of the title role, with tenor Michael Fabiano as Don José, soprano Ailyn Pérez as Micaëla, and bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green.

Cracknell's creative team includes veteran set designer Michael Levine. Making their Met company debuts are costume designer Tom Scutt, lighting designer Guy Hoare, projection designer rocafilm/Roland Horvarth, and choreographer Ann Yee.

Italian conductor Daniele Rustioni made his Met debut conducting Aida in 2017 and returns to conduct the new production of Carmen, after previously conducting Falstaff earlier this year and Rigoletto and Le Nozze di Figaro during the 2021–22 season. He is the principal guest conductor at the Bavarian State Opera. He has served as principal conductor of the Opéra National de Lyon since 2017 and chief conductor of the Ulster Orchestra since 2019. Between 2014 and 2020, he was music director of the Orchestra della Toscana, where he is currently artistic director. He has conducted all the major Italian symphony orchestras, as well as many throughout Europe, and has also led productions at La Scala, Staatsoper Berlin, Dutch National Opera, the Paris Opera, Pesaro's Rossini Opera Festival, and in Aix-en-Provence, Valencia, Venice, Madrid, Stuttgart, Zurich, Tokyo, Rome, and Naples, among others.

Venezuelan conductor Diego Matheuz makes his company debut conducting Carmen. Some of his most notable concerts include two of Teatro La Fenice's celebrated New Year Concerts, broadcast worldwide on RAI, and the Tokyo Gala Concert, celebrating the 120-year anniversary of Deutsche Grammophon at Suntory Hall. He has worked with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestra of La Scala, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Spanish National Orchestra, BBC and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He has worked both at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Staatsoper Berlin, Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu, Valencia's Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, and more recently at the Teatro São Carlos, Maggio Musicale, and Pesaro's Rossini Festival. He is the principal conductor of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra. In 2018, he and violinist Francesco Senese founded MACH, a project which is part of the international summer festival “Musica sull'Acqua” in Colico, Italy.

Russian mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina returns to the Met in the title role of Carmen after making her Met debut as Maddalena in Rigoletto in 2022. Her other career highlights include Charlotte in Werther, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Carmen, and Preziosilla in La Forza del Destino at Covent Garden; the title role of La Cenerentola at Madrid's Teatro Real; Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Paris Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Israeli Opera; Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda at Dutch National Opera; Olga in Eugene Onegin at San Francisco Opera; Polina in The Queen of Spades at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Teatro di San Carlo, and with the Berlin Philharmonic; Fenena in Nabucco at Staatsoper Hamburg; and Varvara in Káťa Kabanová at the Glyndebourne Festival. In 2017, she won the Grand Prix at the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition.

French mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine reprises her portrayal of the title role of Carmen in the spring. She made her company debut in the same role in 2017. Her career highlights include Fidès in Le Prophète, Dulcinée in Don Quichotte, Marguerite in a new production of La Damnation de Faust, and Dalila in Samson et Dalila at the Deutsche Oper Berlin; Amneris in Aida at Opera Australia; Léonor de Guzman in La Favorite at Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu; her debut at Washington National Opera as Carmen; and Rebecca in Il Templario at the Salzburg Festival. In 2018, she made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Riccardo Muti, part of a five-city, eight-concert East Coast tour with the ensemble. Also active as a concert soloist, she has sung Mendelssohn's Elijah in Berlin, Mozart's Requiem in Lisbon, and Verdi's Requiem in Budapest.

Los Angeles–born soprano Angel Blue makes her Met role debut as Micaëla in Carmen. Since making her Met debut in 2017 as Mimì in La Bohème, her performance highlights include opening the 2019–20 season as Bess in Porgy and Bess, opening the 2021–22 season in the roles of Destiny/Loneliness/Greta in the Met premiere of Terence Blanchard's Fire Shut Up in My Bones, her Met role debut as Violetta in La Traviata during the 2022–23 season, and appearing as a featured soloist on the Met's 2023 Summer European tour. She has also been recognized for performances on great stages around the world, including at the Vienna State Opera, Semperoper Dresden, LA Opera, Seattle Opera, Theater an der Wien, La Scala, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Paris Opera, English National Opera, and San Diego Opera. She is a two-time Grammy Award winner, the Met's 2020 Beverly Sills Award recipient, and the 2022 Richard Tucker Award winner. Later this season, she is scheduled to make her Met role debuts as Magda in La Rondine and Liù in Turandot.

Chicago-born Mexican American soprano Ailyn Pérez returns to reprise the role of Micaëla in Carmen, following her portrayal in the title role in the Met's historic company premiere of Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas earlier this season. Other Met performance highlights include Alice Ford in Falstaff, Blanche de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites, Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, Mimì and Musetta in La Bohème, Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, and Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro. She has also appeared at Covent Garden, La Scala, Dutch National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, and the Dallas Opera, among others. She made history in 2012 by being the first Hispanic recipient of the Richard Tucker Award. She was the 2016 recipient of the Met's Beverly Sills Artist Award.

Polish tenor Piotr Beczała makes his Met role debut as Don José in Carmen. He made his Met debut in 2006 as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, a role that he reprised multiple times in subsequent seasons, including in the premieres of new productions by Michael Mayer in 2013 and Bartlett Sher in 2021. His Met repertory also includes Rodolfo in Luisa Miller and La Bohème, Vaudémont in Iolanta, Lenski in Eugene Onegin, the title role of Faust, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Chevalier des Grieux in Manon, Gustavo in Un Ballo in Maschera, the Prince in Rusalka, Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur, Loris Ipanoff in Fedora, and the title role of Lohengrin. Other performances include the title role of Werther in Zurich, Jontek in Halka and Werther at the Polish National Opera, the Prince and Lohengrin at the Vienna State Opera, Rodolfo in Luisa Miller in Barcelona and in concert at the Salzburg Festival, and Lohengrin at the Bayreuth Festival. He has also appeared at La Scala, Covent Garden, the Paris Opera, Staatsoper Berlin, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, among others.

New Jersey-born tenor Michael Fabiano makes his Met role debut as Don José in Carmen. He made his company debut in 2010 as Raffaele in Stiffelio. His Met repertory also includes Cassio in Otello, Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Rodolfo in La Bohème, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Alfredo in La Traviata, Chevalier des Grieux in Manon, and Cavaradossi in Tosca. Recent performance highlights include his company debut as Cavaradossi at the Paris Opera; Rodolfo in La Bohème, his role debut as Ismaele in Nabucco, Alfredo, and Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera at Madrid's Teatro Real; Calàf in Turandot at the Opera di Roma; Lenski in Eugene Onegin at Naples's Teatro di San Carlo; and the title role of Don Carlo and Hoffmann in Les Contes d'Hoffmann at the Paris Opera. He received the 2014 Beverly Sills Artist Award and the 2014 Richard Tucker Award—the first singer to win both awards in the same year.

Iowa-born bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen reprises the role of Escamillo. He made his Met debut as Angelotti in Tosca in 2006, followed by performances as Escamillo, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Mr. Flint in Billy Budd, Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande, and Richard in Kevin Puts's The Hours. Recent performances include the title role of Don Giovanni at the Vienna State Opera, Dr. Dulcamara in L'Elisir d'Amore at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Kaspar in Der Freischütz at the Bavarian State Opera. His concert engagements include Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Mozart's Requiem with Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the Vail Festival, and his debut in Mendelssohn's Elijah with the Utah Symphony under the baton of Thierry Fischer.

Grammy Award–winning bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green, a Virginia native, makes his Met role debut as Escamillo in Carmen. His Met performance highlights include his recent portrayal of Young Emile Griffith in Terence Blanchard's Champion, as well as the roles of Uncle Paul in Blanchard's Fire Shut Up in My Bones, Jake in Porgy and Bess, Colline in La Bohème, Varlaam in Boris Godunov, Truffaldin in Ariadne auf Naxos, the King in Aida, Oroe in Semiramide, Rambo in John Adams's The Death of Klinghoffer, the Bonze in Madama Butterfly, the Jailer in Tosca, the Second Knight in Parsifal, and the Mandarin in Turandot, the role of his 2012 company debut. Also at the Met this season, he stars as Charles in the company's revival of Fire Shut Up in My Bones. He is a graduate of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and was a recipient of the Met's 2021 and 2023 Beverly Sills Artist Awards.

British film and theater director Carrie Cracknell makes her Met debut with the new production of Carmen. She recently made her debut feature film, an adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion for Netflix, and also directed a revival of Portia Coughlan by Marina Carr at the Almeida Theatre. Career highlights include her first dance/theater collaboration at The Gate TheatreI Am Falling, which transferred to Sadler's Wells and was nominated for a South Bank Show Award, and her production of A Doll's House, which ran twice at the Young Vic before transferring to the Duke of York's in the West End, and then to BAM in New York—for which she was nominated for the Evening Standard Best Director Award. She went on to direct her first opera, Wozzeck, for English National Opera, which was nominated for an Olivier Award and an International Opera Award. She became the youngest artistic director in Britain when she joined Natalie Abrahami as joint artistic directors of The Gate Theatre in Notting Hill from 2007–12. She regularly collaborates with The National Theatre, where her credits include productions of MedeaThe Deep Blue SeaBlurred Lines, and Julie. She has been an associate director at both the Young Vic and The Royal Court Theatre. Her production of Sea Wall/A Life was nominated for four Tony Awards—Best Play, twice for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge, and for Best Sound Design in a Play for Daniel Kluger.

Canadian set designer Michael Levine returns to the Met with the new production of Carmen. He made his Met debut in 1997 with his set and costume designs for a new production of Eugene Onegin. Since then, he has designed several Met productions, including Mefistofele in 1999, Madama Butterfly in 2006, Parsifal in 2013, and most recently Die Zauberflöte in 2023. Other recent productions include Doppelgänger at Park Avenue Armory; Madama Butterfly at the Bregenz Festival; Turandot, Hänsel und Gretel, Dialogues des Carmélites, Carmen, and Rigoletto at Dutch National Opera; The Seagull at Sweden's Royal Dramatic Theatre; The Cunning Little Vixen at the Bavarian State Opera; Jenůfa, Peter Grimes, Tannhäuser, and Der Fliegende Holländer at Covent Garden; Le Petit Prince at the National Ballet of Canada; Iphigénie en Tauride, Sweeney Todd, Madama Butterfly, Wozzeck, and The Queen of Spades in Zurich; Die Tote Stadt at the Komische Oper Berlin; Billy Budd in Madrid; The Rape of Lucretia at the Glyndebourne Festival; Don Giovanni at La Scala; and Rigoletto at Lyric Opera of Chicago, English National Opera, and the Canadian Opera Company. He also co-directed and designed the Ring cycle at the Canadian Opera Company.

London-based costume designer Tom Scutt makes his company debut with Carmen. He regularly works in London's major theaters, such as The National Theatre, Royal Court, Almeida, and Donmar Warehouse, as well as at English National Opera, and he has been Tony-nominated for his work on Broadway. He has provided the UK-premiere designs for notable plays, such as the award-winning King Charles III at the Almeida, Constellations at the Royal Court, Fairview at the Young Vic, A Very Expensive Poison at the Old Vic, and Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play at the Almeida, as well as award-winning revivals, such as Summer and Smoke at the Almeida, and Jesus Christ Superstar and Little Shop of Horrors at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre. He is an honorary fellow of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, an associate artist of The Donmar Warehouse, and a resident at Somerset House Studios.

England-based lighting designer Guy Hoare makes his company debut with Carmen. His opera credits include The Firework Maker's Daughter at Covent Garden, nominated at the 2014 Olivier Awards for Best New Opera Production; Jakob Lenz at ENO; American Lulu for the Opera Group; and The Cunning Little Vixen at The National Theatre; as well as designs for Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Siegfried for Longbrough Festival Opera. He has designed more than 20 productions for English Touring Opera over nine seasons, including the 2014 Olivier Award–winning season of King Priam and Paul Bunyan. In 2010, he was nominated for Best Lighting Designer at the TMA Awards for A Christmas Carol. He has been nominated three times at the Knight of Illumination Awards—in 2009, 2012 and 2013.

Ann Yee is a New York City–based choreographer making her Met debut with Carmen. Her theater credits include Next to Normal at The Donmar Warehouse, Seven Deadly Sins and Bluebeard's Castle at Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, South Pacific at the Chichester Festival Theater, Sadler's Wells in the West End, and on tour; Life After at The Goodman Theatre; Caroline, or Change on Broadway, the Hampstead Theatre, and the Playhouse in the West End; Urinetown at St. James's Theatre and the Apollo Theatre; Sunday in the Park with George at the Hudson Theatre; Oklahoma! at Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Julie at the Royal National Theatre; The Taming of the Shrew at The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park; Shakespeare Trilogy at The Donmar Warehouse, King's Cross, and St. Ann's Warehouse; Ah! Wilderness at the Young Vic; the European premiere of The Color Purple at Menier Chocolate Factory; and Wozzeck and Britten's War Requiem at English National Opera. She trained at Boston Conservatory of Music, Harvard Summer Dance Center, and Ohio State University.

Production company rocafilm makes its company debut with the new production of Carmen. Founded in 2010 by filmmakers Carmen Zimmermann and Roland Horvath, the company produces videos for operas and plays as well as documentary films. Their operatic works include productions of Giulio Cesare, La Bohème, Falstaff, and La Cenerentola at the Salzburg Festival; Altes Testament at the Schauspielhaus Graz; Idomeneo at the Theater an der Wien; Die Zauberflöte and Aquagranda at the Teatro La Fenice, Rigoletto at Dutch National Opera, and La Damnation de Faust at the Opera di Roma.