“La tragédie de Carmen” adapted by Peter Brook, music by Georges Bizet
Friday, April 14, 2023 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 16, 2023 at 3:00 p.m.
Crowder Hall, $20, 15, 10
Music director and conductor Thomas Cockrell shares, “La tragédie de Carmen is a distillation of Bizet’s masterful grand opera down to its dramatic essence. The innovative stage director Peter Brook paired with composer/conductor Marius Constant to condense Bizet’s three and a half hours to one dramatic arch of only 90 minutes. Gone are the great chorus scenes and minor characters, but still remaining are the beloved arias and duets of Carmen, Don José, Micäela and Escamillo. Instead of a full pit orchestra, we have the instrumental essentials: five strings, four winds, four brass, harp, piano, and percussion.”
Stage Director and Director of Opera Theater Cynthia Stokes says, “When La tragédie de Carmen first premiered in America in 1983, it was thought of as an artistic oddity, stripping Bizet’s opera to its bare bones. Over the past 40 years, this adaptation has joined the canon of most performed operas. We are excited to present this adventurous Carmen to our Tucson community, which features the exciting up and coming operatic talent from UA Opera Theater, as well as Maestro Thomas Cockrell at the podium with members of the Arizona Symphony Orchestra.”
One of opera’s most enthralling characters comes to life in this intense 90-minute reinterpretation of one of opera’s most loved shows. Pared down to four singers, the opera follows Carmen as she draws the infatuated Don Jose away from his love Micäela and toward a life of jealousy, lust, and murder. Featuring many of the immensely popular melodies of Bizet’s original version, La tragédie de Carmen trims this powerful story into a taut and fast-paced “tragedy of four people” that brims with seduction and intrigue as it moves towards its inevitable conclusion.
Micaëla, a young country girl, arrives in Seville looking for her childhood sweetheart, Don José. She brings him a letter from his mother. A gitano, Carmen, throws a flower to the young corporal and sings an erotic love song.
The two girls fight and José’s superior, Zuniga, appears. Unable to control Carmen, he orders José to take her to jail. En route, Carmen promises José that if he lets her escape, she will meet him at the inn of her friend Lillias Pastia. José lets Carmen go, whereupon Zuniga locks him up and takes away the corporal’s rank. Carmen arrives at the inn with stolen goods.
Zuniga comes to see Carmen and offers money for her favors. Carmen accepts, but shortly thereafter Jose enters. Carmen abandons Zuniga and sings for José. At this moment the bugles blow, summoning José back to the barracks. Carmen is furious and taunts him; the situation becomes tense. José discovers Zuniga, loses control and kills the officer.
The body is quickly hidden as Escamillo, a famous bullfighter, enters. Buying drinks all around, he announces that he, too, wants Carmen. José, jealous, picks a fight with Escamillo. Carmen separates them and Escamillo withdraws, inviting all to his next bullfight.
José, who has now killed for Carmen, sings of his love for her. They go to the mountains where an old gypsy woman unites them. While they are sleeping, Garcia appears at the camp. He is Carmen’s husband, though she has hidden his existence from José. The two men challenge each other and as they go off to fight, Carmen reads her tragic fate in the cards. The song ends, Garcia returns wounded and falls dead at Carmen’s feet.
Micaëla appears again searching for José; the two women seem to understand each other. They sing while José, twice a murderer and abandoned by Carmen, flees. Carmen becomes Escamillo’s mistress. José returns to persuade her to leave with him to start a new life. She refuses, knowing she is putting her life in jeopardy.
Escamillo is killed in the bullring. Carmen still refuses José’s offer, but she goes with him as far as the place where the cards have foretold that she will die.
Credit San Diego Opera
Carmen – Martina Portychova
Martina Portychova (Carmen) has worked with soprano Martina Arroyo, Katherine Johnson, Faye Robinson and conductors Thomas Cockrell, Steven Crawford, Martin Doubravsky, Elizabeth Hastings, Mariusz Smolij, and Guillaume Tourniere. Ms. Portychova appeared in operatic productions at the University of Arizona, the Opera Theater F. X. Salda in Liberec, Czech Republic, the State Prague Opera, St. Bonaventure University, NY and in concert with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra in Louisiana. Ms. Portychova has performed the roles of Mrs. Herring (Albert Herring), La Principessa and Mistress of the Novices (Suor Angelica), Angelina (La Cenerentola) Rosina (The Barber of Seville), Meg Page (The Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff), Cherubino (Marriage of Figaro), Baba (The Medium), Jo (Little Women), Old Lady (Candide), Nicklausse/Muse (Tales of Hoffmann), and Sister Miriam (The Three Hermits). In addition to operatic performances, she has appeared at the Bel Canto Festival in Portland, Oregon and was a Resident Artist at the Cincinnati Opera in 2007.
Micäela – Aubrey Maren Cole
Desert dwelling Soprano Aubrey Maren Cole (Micaëla) is a senior at the University of Arizona pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance under the mentorship of Professor Yunah Lee. Aubrey discovered her love for opera through her active participation in musicals and voice lessons. She has performed in multiple operas in the past year, such as Suor Angelica as Genovieffa and La Sorella Infermiera, Gianni Schicchi as La Ciesca, Carmen as Michaela (cover), and Le Nozze di Figaro as Susanna. At U of A, she will sing the role of Michaela in La Tragédie de Carmen this April and then graduate in May. Aubrey will sing Susanna for a second time this summer but this time with International Lyric Academy in North Carolina and Vicenza, Italy.
Don José – Micheal Dewayne Jackson
Micheal Dewayne Jackson (Don José) is a vocalist from Las Vegas, Nevada and received his bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance at the University of Nevada-Reno. Jackson has appeared as a soloist with Lake Tahoe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (Toccata), Susanville Symphony, Nevada Chamber Opera, and more. Currently, Jackson is completing his master’s degree at the University of Arizona and is excited to continue to collaborate with wonderful musicians at the University of Arizona.
Escamillo – Zhong Liu
Zhong Liu is a Baritone with rich experience and is keen on Opera works. He has mastered excellent and advanced vocal techniques. He participates in a large number of concerts and performances. He took part in the MNET Asian Music Awards Competition Winners concert, in Berlin in 2016. He has also participated in the Bellini International Competition’s Winner Concert in Wuhan in 2019. In 2015, He won First Prize in the Wuhan Conservatory of Music, 1st German/Austrian Art Song Competition. In 2016, at the 1st German Lieder/Schumann Lieder Competition, Wuhan, he won the 2nd Prize. In 2017, he won the 3rd Prize in the Renato Bruso International Voice Competition in Wuhan, China, and in the same year, he won the Gold Award at England International Arts Festival in Music. In 2019, at the Bellini International Competition, he won the First prize and in the same year, he won the Golden prize in Korea. He has performed in multiple operas, such as Grandpa Moss in Copland’s The Tender Land, Simone in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Il Conte in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen. He has got his bachelor’s degree from the Wuhan Conservatory of music and a master’s degree from Boston Conservatory, and now he studies at the University of Arizona with Professor Andrew Stuckey.
Zuniga – Jared Petersen
Jared Peterson (Zuniga), a native of Rocklin, California, is a classically trained bass-baritone pursuing a master’s degree at University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music (Fred Fox School of Music) in vocal performance under the mentorship of Dr. Andrew Stuckey. He graduated from Washington State University with a bachelor’s degree in music education, instrumental and choral endorsement. Currently, Jared is a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the Fred Fox School of Music teaching general voice class and individual voice lessons. He has experience performing in both musicals and operas, having played Rapunzel’s Prince in Into the Woods, Dr. Craven in The Secret Garden, Mr. Ford in Otto Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, and most recently Figaro in the Fred Fox School of Music’s production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro last fall.
Lillas Pastia – Keenan Dolan
Keenan Elijah Dolan (Lillas Pastia) is a DMA student in Choral Conducting with a minor in Opera Stage Direction at the Fred Fox School of Music. He is a conductor and tenor from Portland, Oregon. He received his BMus. in Vocal Performance from Central Washington University and his MM in Choral Conducting from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. He is a frequent guest lecturer for Arizona Opera and is the current student intern for the Opera Guild of Southern Arizona. Most recently, Keenan served as the assistant director for the UA Opera production of Le Nozze di Figaro.
Garcia – Ron Chau
Born and raised in Perth, Australia, I initially majored in engineering, then switched to philosophy, politics, economics. After deciding against a career in academic philosophy, I worked as an economist at the Australian Treasury and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet while taking night classes in psychology. Then, I quit my job to pursue psychology, eventually joining the clinical psychology PhD program at the University of Arizona. While involved in UA a cappella, I began my first-ever voice lessons with Dr. Andrew Stuckey at FFSoM a few years ago, then decided to try my hand at opera last semester.
Old Gypsy Woman/Carmen Cover – Kassidy Cherie Smith
Born and raised in Connecticut, mezzo soprano Kassidy Chérie Smith (Ensemble) began singing as soon as she could talk, starting in her home church’s choir. She took that passion into her schooling and was heavily involved in music, singing in choirs and playing low brass in her high school and community college ensembles. After moving to Washington D.C. in 2018, Kassidy earned an associate degree in music from Prince George’s Community College just outside of D.C. under the tutelage of Dr. Nakia Verner during her time at PGCC. Kassidy moved to Tucson in 2021 and is now pursuing a B.A. in Music with a vocal performance concentration and a minor in Arts Administration at the University of Arizona. Her most recent roles include Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart, and Carmen (cover) in La Tragédie de Carmen by Georges Bizet, both at the University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music.
First Violin – Ziqian Ye
Second Violin – Kai Skaggs
Viola – Gris Moreno
Cello – Lichi Acosta
Bass – Philip Alejo
Harp – Denielle Eliason
Piano – Sophia Su
Flute – Anna Murphy
Oboe – Gabriella Beltran
Clarinet – Cristian Barazal
Bassoon – Matthew Dutczak
Horn – Mary Monaghan
Trumpet – Rachel Clemmer
Trombone – Thanasit Pimnipapatraku
Percussion – Griffin Law
Conductor Thomas Cockrell, Stage Director Cynthia Stokes, Vocal Coach Pedro Yanez, Sophia Su Accompanist, Set Design Sally Day, Costume Design Chris Allen, Lighting Design Todd Poelstra, Stage Combat Choreography Hunter Hnut, Flamenco Dance Specialist Barbara Schuessler, Stage Manager Brian McElroy, Production Manager Carson Scott, Assistant Conductor Maria Fatima Corona del Toro, Opera Graduate Assistant Lindsey McHugh.
Fred Fox School of Music Director Dr. Lori Weist, Voice and Opera Theater Area Coordinator Dr. Kristin Dauphinais mezzo soprano, Professor Yunah Lee soprano, Dr. William (Andrew) Stuckey baritone, Professor Cynthia Stokes Director Opera Theater.
Opera Theater Mission Statement:
The Opera Theater program at the University of Arizona’s mission is to raise the quality and awareness of Opera in Tucson, the surrounding borderline areas, and throughout the state of Arizona. The Opera Theater program promotes opera as a living and essential art form; opera provokes, thrills, and transforms human lives through its unique combination of music and storytelling. The Opera Theater program creates diverse programming, including productions of new and contemporary works, works in English and in Spanish, standard repertory, and the essential re-imagination of operatic works for the stage. The Opera Theater program encourages the development of young opera artists from all backgrounds and cultivates opera enthusiasts of the future. The Opera Theater program builds community to ensure the success of our students as they become opera practitioners, teachers, and leaders of the future.Download The