Carmen: Up Close and Personal

Georges Bizet

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Inspired by French arthouse film, stage director Brenna Corner adds a nontraditional lens to Bizet’s beloved masterpiece. Playing with the conflicting ideas of fate and choice, Carmen: Up Close and Personal is an alluring, intimate and stripped down cinematic adaptation, focused on the four principal characters, with a few twists and turns along the way. Starring members of the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program with members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra.

Digital Premiere:

Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 7:30PM


75 minutes

Sung in:

French with English Subtitles





Ms. Martha Lou Henley, C.M.

Alan and Gwendoline Pyatt Foundation

Yoshiko Karasawa


After reveling in memories of her Bohemian lifestyle and music, Carmen sits down and prepares a tarot reading. As she deals the cards and turns the first card over, a young soldier José enters and is captivated by her beauty. She is taken with him, despite the warning she gets from the cards.

They are quickly interrupted by the entrance of the soldier’s childhood sweetheart, Micaëla. She has been looking all over for him. After his sordid and violent past she brings him a message of love and forgiveness from his mother. She also brings him a ring which his mother hopes he will give to Micaëla.

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Their reminiscing is interrupted by Carmen who, having watched their naïve love, shares her beliefs in what love is and the consequences of loving. Micaëla is affronted by Carmen’s flirtation with José and lunges towards her. A conflict ensues resulting in the blameless Carmen being blamed and hauled off to prison. Left alone with José, Carmen tries every trick in the book to escape. Eventually through a combination of her own cunning and José’s infatuation she escapes. José is blamed for her escape and sent to prison, but he keeps with him Carmen’s promise to meet him and be his.

Time passes, and as the tarot cards say Fate continues to move the pieces. Carmen meets Escamillo, the famous bullfighter of Grenade. While she is interested in him, it is José that she longs for and he returns to her that very night. Upon his return she dances for him, reveling in the new experience of committed love. However, the trumpet call from the soldiers’ barracks is heard, and José must leave her once again. Distraught, Carmen fights with José claiming he doesn’t truly love her or he would come away with her. Eventually José gives in, deserting the army and placing his mother’s ring on Carmen’s hand.

As Fate and time continues to move on, Micaëla returns searching for José. But she is not the only one. Escamillo has also returned searching for Carmen. He has heard that Carmen’s lovers rarely last a long time and has come to sweep her off her feet. José flies into a jealous rage at the idea of Carmen leaving him. Carmen breaks up the fight, but Escamillo won’t be put off so easily and invites both of them to see his upcoming bullfight in Seville. As they prepare to leave, Micaëla is discovered. She confesses to José that his mother has sent her to fetch him home. Carmen, now understanding José’s insane jealousness and instability, tells him to go home to his mother, sending José into a passionate rage. Only Micaëla is able to stop him by telling him that his mother is dying and he must return home. José agrees to leave but warns Carmen that he will be back.

As predicted in the cards, José returns begging Carmen to forgive him so their lives can continue together. Carmen confesses to him that no matter what he does, she will not be his. She was born free and will remain free. Taking his mother’s ring off her finger, she gives it back to him. José raises his knife and moves towards her…

We return to the beginning. Carmen has finished her tarot reading. She has seen her future. The young soldier enters again….



Music by Georges Bizet
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy

Georges Bizet (October 25, 1838 – 3 June 3, 1875), born as Alexandre César Léopold Bizet, was a French composer of the Romantic era. Best known for his operas in a career cut short by his early death, Bizet achieved few successes before his final work, Carmen, which has become one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertoire. During a brilliant student career at the Conservatoire de Paris, Bizet won many prizes, including the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1857. He was recognised as an outstanding pianist, though he chose not to capitalise on this skill and rarely performed in public. Later commentators have acclaimed him as a composer of brilliance and originality whose premature death was a significant loss to French musical theatre.


Cast & Creative

Featuring the 2020-2021 Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists and members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra

Leslie Dala, Conductor

Leslie Dala


Brenna Corner, Stage Director

Brenna Corner

Stage Director

Amanda Weatherall

Yulanda M. Faris Young
Artists Program Participant

Ian Cleary

“Don José”
Yulanda M. Faris Young
Artists Program Participant

Jonelle Sills

Yulanda M. Faris Young
Artists Program Participant

Luka Kawabata

Yulanda M. Faris Young
Artists Program Participant

Dana Fradkin

Assistant Director
Yulanda M. Faris Young
Artists Program Participant

Chengyan Boon

Projection Designer

Gerald King

Lighting Designer

Alaia Hamer

Costume Designer

Kinza Tyrrell

Head Coach,
Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program

Tina Chang

Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program

Amy Seulky Lee

Yulanda M. Faris Young
Artists Program Participant

Theresa Tsang

Stage Manager

Marijka Asbeek Brusse

Assistant Stage Manager

Leah Giselle Field

COVID Safety Officer

House Programme

Carmen: Up Close and Personal

Read the digital house programme for Carmen: Up Close and Personal and get to know more about this opera, the cast, creative team and the digital season!

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Interviews & Special Features

Reimagining Carmen with Brenna Corner (Full Interview)

Director Brenna Corner talks about her brand-new cinematic adaptation of Carmen in this featurette, with photos from the set and exclusive behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage.  (10min)

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Meet Director Brenna Corner

Director Brenna Corner discusses the cinematic experience of Carmen: Up Close and Personal. (1min)

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Carmen's Enduring Relevance

Director Brenna Corner discusses the important themes that will make Carmen: Up Close and Personal resonate for today’s audiences. (1min)

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Fate and Choice in Carmen

Director Brenna Corner discusses how the themes of fate and choice are reflected in this exciting new adaption of Bizet’s opera. (1min)

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Meet the Cast and Characters of Carmen: Up Close and Personal

Meet the cast and characters of Carmen: Up Close and Personala fiery independent spirit, a lover consumed by obsession, the faithful childhood friend, and the brash bull fighter. (5min)

Bonus: extended version below includes the cast performing excerpts from their character’s signature arias!

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Time Lapse Video of the Sets

Carmen: Up Close and Personal was filmed from March 31–April 1 at Vancouver’s historic Orpheum Theatre. It features unique staging built over audience seating with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra playing on the auditorium stage. Watch the sets going up and down in this time lapse video by Technical Director Autumn Coppaway! (1min)

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Highlights from the Music with Tina Chang

Listen to some of the musical highlights from this opera in this video with Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program coach Tina Chang. (5min)

Watch Interview

Preview Podcast for Carmen

Listen to the Preview Podcast

Vancouver Opera Offstage host Les Dala talks with stage director Brenna Corner about her career as an alumnus of the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist Program and her vision in developing Carmen: Up Close and Personal. (35min)

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Digital Season with Mike Southworth

Podcast: Bringing the Digital Season from stage to screen

Vancouver Opera Offstage host Les Dala talks with Mike Southworth of Collide Entertainment about bringing opera from the stage to the screen. Mike has been responsible for all of the camerawork and videography behind Vancouver Opera’s 2020–2021 Digital Season operas. (32min)

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