Spanish passion in celebrated opera at Warwick Arts Centre

Ellen Kent's production of Carmen, coming to Warwick Arts Centre.
Ellen Kent's production of Carmen, coming to Warwick Arts Centre.

MAGNIFICIENT sets, luxurious costumes and talented singing will delight audiences again as another Ellen Kent opera returns to Warwick Arts Centre this month.

The opera producer, who is famed for her productions across eastern and western Europe and the Middle East, brings together the Moldovan National Opera, the Moldovan National Philharmonic Orchestra and international soloists in her fresh take on Bizet’s Carmen, which is on at the Coventry venue on Tuesday February 19 as part of a 74-date tour in the UK and Ireland.

Ellen, back in full swing after making an about-turn on her decision to retire last year, said: “I try to do opera that people actually want to see – that people can identify with and cry and feel moved.

“I aim to make opera understandable and enjoyable – using the same genre as the best of musicals, such as Phantom of the Opera or Miss Saigon. People don’t want to be educated, they want to be entertained and have a great night out.”

In Carmen, Ellen is drawing inspiration for the sets from paintings by Goya with the backdrop of the bullring. The set has flowers everywhere, as well as date palms, fountains and the Moorish architecture and balconies of Seville.

Ellen spent her teenage years in Spain and has drawn from her experiences to weave her own Spanish passion and drama into the production.

She said: “My mother used to run the equivalent of the RSPCA in Spain when I was growing up and the farm was full of 30 to 40 donkeys, the same number of dogs and even more cats.

“We used to travel miles across the countryside to festivals when they were planning to sacrifice a donkey. We’d buy the donkey off them and run – often chased by villagers. There was never a dull moment.”

Carmen tells the story of the downfall of soldier Don Jose, who is seduced by the fiery, beautiful and passionate gypsy Carmen.

Abandoning both his childhood sweetheart and his military career, Jose pursues Carmen but loses her to the glamorous bullfighter Escamillo. In true tragic operatic fashion, Jose can’t bear to be without Carmen and stabs her in a jealous rage.

The tour features celebrated international soloists mezzo soprano Nadia Stoianova, soprano Maria Tsonina, baritone Vladimir Dragos and tenor Sorin Lupu.

For tickets, call 024 7652 4524 or go online.