Quote of the Day: Carmen is beautiful and powerful. Opera students Zach and Tessa, reflecting on watching Carmen under the stars, a Mill City Summer Opera production.

Concordia College music students, Zach and Tessa at Mill City Summer Opera Carmen

Concordia College music students, Zach and Tessa at Mill City Summer Opera Carmen

Carmen, with its familiar score, colorful characters, tragic ending, and beautiful staging enters another realm as the audience sits among the ruins of the old Mill City factory on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, MN. Zach said that the outdoor setting, in the ruins of an old factory, as the sun was setting, created a unique effect, almost like it was really happening. In the opening scene of Carmen, the men are sitting outside a cigarette factory, ogling women. They are all beautiful and alluring. The men jockey around, even harass Micaëla, but when Carmen appears, she commands attention. She is in control. 

Or, is she?

It’s interesting to see a show produced by different companies. Each director has a vision of the story and the characters and what they want to draw out of the actors. Zach was in a production of Carmen in the Lakes Area Music Festival. There Carmen was portrayed as more of a free bird, maybe a bit of a temptress, and manipulating Don José, to a certain extent. Zach and Tessa agreed that Carmen in the MCSO production is much more sexual. Audrey Babcock does a wonderful job portraying her. She is powerful and beautiful. Don José becomes obsessed with her, wanting to control her, to capture the free bird. 

Zach and Tessa both enjoyed the effect of watching Carmen in the open air of a warm Minneapolis evening. Particularly in Act III, they created a dark and anxious atmosphere that was incredible. The sky was getting dark. The orchestra played on the scaffolding to their right. A full moon was projected on the walls of the ruins, and the singing was gorgeous and captivating. “The leads all fit their parts so well,” they both agreed. 

Carmen under the stars, with a full moon projection, Mill City Summer Opera.

Carmen under the stars, with a full moon projection, Mill City Summer Opera.

Luis Alejandro Orozco, who played Escamillo, had it all, they said. He has the looks of a sports hero (matador), the presence and personality, and a gorgeous voice to carry those powerful notes out through the audience, charming everyone, both on and off the stage. 

Adam Diegel was a great Don José. He started out strong, and built from there. His character is at first a bit insecure, then becomes obsessed, then exudes too much power. “His voice was light and clear” said Tessa, “especially at the top,” his high notes. His voice and demeanor really created the character. 

The Mill City Summer Opera production of Carmen runs through July 24, 2018, and it is officially sold out. However, I read this on their Facebook page. “Starting tonight we will have a limited number of $35 rush tickets available for all performances! The box office opens at 6pm in the Mill City Museum lobby, an hour and a half before the start of the performance. Limit 2 tickets per person, cash or credit.” More info in the press release below.

Journaling Prompt: Do you enjoy open air performances? When have you been enchanted by an experience?


By Georges Bizet
July 13-24, 2018
Mill City Summer Opera
Mill City Museum Ruin Courtyard
704 S. Second St., Minneapolis, MN 55401
Tickets:  $50-$125
Free-$5 for July 18 “Carmen for Young Audiences” 
Box Office: millcitysummeropera.org or 612-875-5544
Returning to design the sets for 2018 is Narelle Sissons whose work at MCSO has included set designs for Pagliacci and Sweeney Todd.  Sarah Bahr, will design the costumes, Nate Wheatley the lighting, and Jason Allen will return for his seventh season as wig and make-up designer. Brian DeMaris, in his seventh season as Music Director of MCSO, will also be serving as Interim Artistic Director for the 2018 season.
New this year, Mill City Summer Opera will present “Carmen for Young Audiences” on Wednesday, July 18 at 10:30 am at the Mill City Museum. The performance will be a shortened version of the story with material from Carmen geared for children. This special one-hour show, featuring Nadia Fayed in the title role and a smaller cast, introduces the concept of opera to children and includes audience participation as well. Singers will be in costume and will be accompanied by piano. Tickets, available at the door, are $5 for adults and FREE for children.
Tickets ($50-$125; Opening Night $200-$250) – excluding the Wednesday, July 18 show – are available at 612-875-5544, or online at millcitysummeropera.org. Rush seats will be available for all performances the day of show at 6:00 pm at the Mill City Museum.
Performance Dates and Times
• Opening Night – Friday, July 13, pre-party at 6 pm, performance at 7:30 pm, with after-party
• Sunday, July 15 at 7:30 pm
• Tuesday, July 17 at 7:30 pm
• Wednesday, July 18 at 10:30 am – “Carmen for Young Audiences” (adults $5; children free)
• Thursday, July 19 at 7:30 pm
• Friday, July 20 at 7:30 pm
• Sunday, July 22 at 7:30 pm
• Tuesday, July 24 at 7:30 pm
Mill City Summer Opera’s mission is to tap into underutilized summer arts resources to produce high-quality, affordably-priced opera performance experiences in a casual outdoor venue for opera buffs as well as those being introduced to the art form. For more on Mill City Summer Opera, please visit: https://millcitysummeropera.org/ and connect on FacebookTwitter and Instagram: @mcsummeropera.
Audrey Babcock as Carmen