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San Francisco Opera Allows Live Tweeting During Dress Rehearsal of CARMEN

The San Francisco Opera held its final dress rehearsal for Carmen on Wednesday afternoon, which is set to open this weekend. During the rehearsal, they allowed live tweeting with the hashtag #CarmenSF.

Mezzo-sopranos Irene Roberts and Ginger Costa-Jackson star in the passionate title role. In a casting change announced today, tenor Brian Jagde, originally scheduled to star as Don José in six of Carmen's eleven performances running through July 3, will now sing the role for all performances except May 28, which will be sung by Adam Diegel. Jagde and Diegel replace tenor Maxim Aksenov, who has withdrawn from the production for personal reasons. San Francisco Opera also returns to AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, for a free live simulcast of Carmen on July 2.

Carmen marks the long-awaited United States opera debut of innovative international director Calixto Bieito. The so-called "bad-boy of opera," Bieito is hailed for his provocative and iconoclastic opera productions. His raw, sexually-charged and cinematic vision of Carmen unabashedly provokes the visceral emotions pulsing through this tale of love, lust and murder. Bieito's "intelligent, persuasive and intense" (The Guardian, UK) high-energy production will be staged in San Francisco by his longtime collaborator, Spanish director Joan Anton Rechi.

This powerful tale of a defiantly free-spirited woman and her obsessive lover features two outstanding casts. Irene Roberts and Ginger Costa-Jackson share the role of the impassioned gypsy Carmen. Brian Jagde is the lovesick soldier Don José for all performances except May 28, which will be sung by American tenor Adam Diegel in his San Francisco Opera debut. Diegel performed the role in Bieito's 2012 production for English National Opera. The casts also feature baritone Zachary Nelson and bass-baritone Michael Sumuel as the dashing bullfighter Escamillo, and sopranos Ellie Dehn and Erika Grimaldi sharing the role of Micaëla. Italian conductor Carlo Montanaro makes his Company debut leading the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in Bizet's fiery, tuneful score, with Company Resident Conductor Jordi Bernàcer conducting the final performance on July 3.

Bieito commented: "This opera, from my point of view, deals with limits, the emotional and physical boundaries between people, and about freedom, love, violence, sorrow, desperation, solitude. Carmen is a young woman in the context of a difficult life where she has had to survive. She is intuitive, earthy, passionate, melancholy, sensitive-a young person who desires to drink up life- who is living in a dangerous and violent society. My Carmen is not picturesque, nor folkloric, nor a collection of engravings of a stereotypical old Spain. It is a Carmen that walks across the border."

Bieito's Carmen is set in post-Franco Spain in the autonomous Spanish city of Ceuta, the ancient Mediterranean outpost located on the north coast of Africa. According to revival director Joan Anton Rechi: "Calixto wanted a high level of realism to show a wild and cruel universe full of passions and primal virility," and notes the production is more faithful to the gritty and raw naturalism of the original Mérimée novel that Bizet and his co-librettists adapted.

The San Francisco Opera co-production with Boston Lyric Opera, based on Bieito's original production, was built by the San Francisco Opera production department and reunites Bieito's original Carmen creative team including set designer Alfons Flores and costume designer Mercè Paloma. The production design elements include six 1980s-era Mercedes Benz W123 model cars, which were procured in the Bay Area. These Mercedes-Benz sedans are ubiquitous in Ceuta and surrounding areas, where they are used as "Grand Taxis," a popular form of transportation in the region. The cars appear in the production's modern-day frontier universe as the method by which the gypsies smuggle their contraband.

Please note: This production contains violence, nudity and suggestive behavior. Parent discretion advised.

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