Sunday, November 1, 2009
Is "Carmen" Too Hot to Live?
Boston Lyric Opera's new production of Bizet's Carmen opens this coming Friday, November 6th. In anticipation, I read the original source material for the infamous title character, Proper Merimee's novella, Carmen. The novella is quite different from anything I have heard about the opera. The text serves as a meditation on gypsies in general with the story of one gypsy as an example of the people. Merimee's narrator recounts the story as told to him by Don Jose. From what I understand, in both the opera and the novella, Don Jose becomes enchanted by Carmen and cannot shake himself of his lust for her. In the novella he joins her gypsy band and jealously follows her from city to city. In the novella, while Don Jose expresses his passion for Carmen, the reader is never privy to her thoughts and the heat does not jump off the page. While I have yet to see the opera, BLO advertises that it is "too hot to live" and indicates this will be a sexy drama. Like reading so many original sources or backstories where the characters or pieces of the story has become far more famous that the original, Merimee's Carmen is slightly disappointing when compared to the cultural image of that gypsy woman. However, the novella is a delightfully quick read in its own right and I am sure will prove an excellent source of comparison this Friday night.