by Georges Bizet
January 22, 2016 at 7:30 PM
January 23, 2016 at 7:30 PM
January 24, 2016 at 2:00 PM
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
Passion. Manipulation. Obsession.
In soap operas and reality shows, it’s totally trashy. On the Palm Beach Opera stage, it’s completely classy.
Our steamy performance begins as wild Carmen seduces naïve soldier Don José. His innocence quickly turns as Carmen’s manipulations bring out the very worst in him. Intensely passionate melodies performed by world-class singers bring the desire and madness from the stage directly into your heart.
Enter the uninhibited world of Carmen from racy beginning to jaw-dropping end. Ignite your night with opera’s bad girl.
Sung in French with English supertitles projected above the stage.
Production Underwriter: Mrs. Ronnie Isenberg, In Loving Memory of Gene Isenberg
Performance Sponsors: Mr. & Mrs. Howard Lester
Rinat Shaham Artist Sponsor: Mrs. Ari Rifkin
Eleni Calenos Artist Sponsor: Solomon Family Foundation Trust
Supertitles Sponsor: Palm Beach Opera Guild
Opening Night Dinner Sponsor: Dr. Elizabeth Bowden
Conductor: David Stern
Director: John de los Santos*
Carmen: Rinat Shaham* (1/22 & 1/24) / Nora Sourouzian* (1/23)
Don Jose: Leonardo Capalbo* (1/22 & 1/24) / Dominick Chenes* (1/23)
Escamillo: Zachary Nelson*
Micaëla: Eleni Calenos
Zuniga: Musa Ngqungwana
Morales: Tobias Greenhalgh
El Dancairo: Jason Duika+
El Remendado: Robert Watson+
Frasquita: Jessica Fishenfeld+
Mercedes: Fleur Barron+
Lighting Designer: Chad R. Jung
*Palm Beach Opera Debut
+Benenson Young Artist
Additional cast information will be listed as it becomes available.
Cast subject to change.
DAVID STERN – CHIEF CONDUCTOR
David Stern is a born communicator. Whether conducting a major symphony orchestra, baroque opera, teaching vocal master classes or defending cultural activities, Stern keeps his musicians, students and audiences riveted by sharing his strong musical convictions, his flexibility of approach and his belief that music is relevant and indeed essential in today’s world. He is the founder and director of the Paris-based opera company and period-instrument ensemble, Opera Fuoco, as well as director of the Shanghai Baroque Festival and director of opera at the Crested Butte Music Festival in Colorado. Most recently, in 2015 he was appointed Chief Conductor of Palm Beach Opera. Stern is known for his eclectic range of repertoire. In his time as former music director of the Israel and the St. Gallen Opera houses, he championed works by Handel, Gluck and Simone Mayr, but also Wozzeck, Turn of the Screw and Mahagonny. With Opera Fuoco, Stern released a CD of rediscovered French Romantic Cantatas with mezzo-soprano Karine Deshayes, and has recorded and toured Johann Christian Bach’s opera, Zanaida, which he premiered at the 2011 Bachfest in Leipzig. In 2014, Stern and Opera Fuoco commissioned a new opera, Cosi Fanciulli, which premiered at the Théâtre de St Quentin and the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris in 2014. He premiered Gil Shochat’s the Child Dreams in Israel in 2010 and in February 2015 he conducted the world premiere of Enemies, a Love Story by Ben Moore, based on the novella by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Stern has enjoyed collaborations with international stage directors including David Alden, Stéphane Braunshweig, Jakob Peters-Messer, Aron Stiehl, Waut Koeken, Robin Guarino and Sam Helfrich, among many others. With Yoshi Oïda he created iconic settings of Britten’s Curlew River and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and with Francisco Negrin he led performances of Mozart’s Mitridate as artist in residence at the 2014 Drottningholm Opera Festival. Stern is frequent guest around the globe with symphonic and chamber orchestras. He is regularly invited to the Shanghai and Guangzhou Symphonies, the China Philharmonic and the New Russian Symphony in Moscow; most recently he has appeared with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the National Orchestra of Mexico. He has often performed at the Lucerne Festival, the Vienna Konzerthaus and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam with both Opera Fuoco and the Basel Chamber Orchestra and has taken Concerto Köln on tour to Carnegie Hall. On both sides of the Atlantic David Stern is committed to working with young voices and he continues to invite members of the Young Artists Program of the Israel Opera to perform in Europe and Asia. As director of the Shanghai Baroque Festival, he involves singers from the Shanghai Conservatory as well as the Opera Fuoco troupe and he works regularly with the Young Artist Programs in Palm Beach and Crested Butte, Colorado. Stern received his Bachelor of Arts from Yale and his Masters of Music from the Juilliard School. He resides in Paris with his wife, violinist Katharina Wolff, and his two daughters.
RINAT SHAHAM – MEZZO SOPRANO
Israeli born mezzo soprano Rinat Shaham has received accolades for her operatic and concert performances throughout the world. Internationally recognized as one of the finest interpreters of Bizet’s Carmen of our day, she first performed the role in 2004 at the Glyndebourne Festival. She has since brought her portrayal to cities including Vienna, Rome, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Cologne, Baden Baden, Lisbon,Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, as well as to opera houses throughout the United States. Aside from Carmen she has performed many operatic roles of different styles and epochs. These include Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, title role of Massenet’s Cendrillon in Brussels, Melisande in Pelleas et Melisande in Berlin under Michael Gielen, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia for the National Theatre in Tokyo, and the Teatro al Fenice in Venice. Shaham has also sung as Blanche in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites, as Charlotte in Werther, and as Dorabella in Così Fan Tutte. Most recently, she sang her first Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni in Brussels, Carmen at the Pittsburg Opera, and in Rossini’s Stabat Mater in Dresden. Sponsored by Mrs. Ari Rifkin
NORA SOUROUZIAN – MEZZO SOPRANO
Hailed by Opera for her “warmly-rounded sound with ease and impact at the top” and “crystalline diction,” French-Canadian mezzo soprano Nora Sourouzian makes her Palm Beach Opera debut in her trademark role of Carmen, which she’s sung with Latvian National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Den Norske Opera, Opéra de Québec, Opéra de Lausanne, Oper Leipzig, Oper Köln, Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Latvian National Opera, Teatro Amilcare Ponchielli Cremona, Minnesota Opera, Oper Klagenfurt, Opernfestspiele St. Margarethen, and Teatro Sociale di Como. Other recent performances for the mezzo-soprano include Leonora in La Favorita and Laura in La Gioconda (Saint Gallen Festival); Herodias in Mariotte’s Salome and the title roles of the Thérèse and La Navarraise (Wexford Festival Opera); Charlotte in Werther (Latvian National Opera); Dulcinée in Don Quichotte (Teatro Massimo Palermo); Maria Callas in Daugherty’s Jackie O and the title role in Phaedra (Teatro Rossini Lugo); and Sonetka in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Grand Théâtre de Genève). While in the ensemble at Staatstheater Kassel she sang Idamante in Idomeneo, Romeo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Annina in Der Rosenkavalier, Dritte Dame in Die Zauberflöte.
LEONARDO CAPALBO – TENOR
Leonardo Capalbo has garnered international acclaim for his performances throughout the United States and Europe and continues to make impressive appearances in theaters around the globe including the Royal Opera Covent Garden, La Monnaie, Berlin State Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, Gran Teatre del Liceu, L’Opéra de Lyon, Teatro Regio di Torino, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. In 2015-2016, Capalbo will be debuting at La Monnaie/De Munt in Mariusz Trelinski’s production of Powder Her Face and as Ismaele in Nabucco at the Royal Opera Covent Garden. Role debuts include Don José at Palm Beach Opera, Cavaradossi at Minnesota Opera and Arturo in La Straniera at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. He returns to the Semperoper Dresden and Polish National Opera. Last season, Capalbo debuted at the Gran Teatre del Liceu as Alfredo in La Traviata; returned to the Berlin State Opera as the title role in Candide; debuted at Minnesota Opera as Nemorino in L’Elisir d’Amore and Ben Marco in The Manchurian Candidate; and made his role debut as Jacopo in I due Foscari at the St. Galler Festpiele.
DOMINICK CHENES – TENOR
Recently reviewed in the Huffington Post as a “breakout star” and “powerhouse lyric tenor”, young tenor Dominick Chenes was most recently seen this summer as Alfredo in La Traviata at the Pa Skaret Opera Festival. Dominick made his professional debut as Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera with Austin Opera last season, a role he also sang at The Academy of Vocal Arts directed by Tito Capobianco. Next season he makes his debut at Grand Theatre de Genevre as Iopas in Les Troyens with Maestro Dutoit, followed by Don Jose in Carmen with Palm Beach Opera, and his debut as Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca with the Minnesota Opera. In 2016-2017, Dominick will open his season as Don Jose with Utah Opera, then will return to Geneva as Rodolfo in La Bohème, followed by his debut with Welsh National Opera as Rodolfo, then returning to Austin Opera as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Currently in his 4th year at AVA, Dominick performed Rodolfo in La Bohème conducted by Christofer Macatsoris, and directed by David Gately in February 2015. Other roles at AVA include, Gherman in Pique Dame, and Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera. In 2013 he made his Alice Tully hall debut with the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation as well as a concert for the Gerda Lissner Foundation in Zankel Hall. Dominick received awards from the Loren L. Zachary Society, the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, and the Giulio Gari Competition in 2015. In 2013 Dominick was awarded second prize from the Gerda Lissner Foundation, third prize from the Mario Lanza Competition and a Grant from the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation. He was also a finalist in the Meistersinger Competition in Graz Austria in 2006 and 2007. He currently studies with Bill Schuman.
ZACHARY NELSON – BARITONE
Zachary Nelson, a native of Annapolis, Maryland, has been praised for his rich and powerful baritone, as well as his ability to embody dramatic and comic characters on the operatic stage. In the 2015-2016 season, Mr. Nelson will sing Escamillo in Carmen in his debut with the San Francisco Opera, with Palm Beach Opera, and with the Canadian Opera Company. He returns to the Dresden Semperoper as a guest artist to perform Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia as well as Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro. He also will make his New York recital debut under the auspices of the George London Foundation. Last season, Zachary Nelson performed the title role of Le Nozze di Figaro with the Aix-en-Provence Festival on tour in Manama, Bahrain. He also made his debut with Canadian Opera Company as Masetto in Dmitri Tcherniakov’s Don Giovanni, and sang the role of Herzog Robert in Washington Concert Opera’s production of Strauss’s rarely-heard opera Guntram. Mr. Nelson continued his tenure with the Dresden Semperoper, performing Paolo in Simon Boccanegra, and Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore, as well as the title role in a new production of Le Nozze di Figaro.
ELENI CALENOS – SOPRANO
Greek soprano Eleni Calenos captures critics’ and audiences’ admiration for the clarity, warmth and beauty of her lyric voice and her dignified characterizations. Current engagements and recent highlights include Mimi in La Bohème with Madison Opera, a reprisal of her acclaimed Cio-Cio San with Ash Lawn Opera, Liù in Turandot with Middlebury Opera, and concert appearances for Verdi’s Requiem with the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, Debussy’s L’Enfant Prodigue with the Metro Chamber Orchestra of New York, and Rachmaninoff’s The Bells with the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra. Additional recent engagements include Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Palm Beach Opera, Liù in Turandot (Boston Chorus Pro Musica, Shreveport Opera), Silvia in Mascagni’s Zanetto with Odyssey Opera, the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro (Tulsa Opera, Austin Lyric Opera), Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly (Shreveport Opera, Mississippi Opera, Opera Idaho), Nedda in I Pagliacci (Shreveport Opera), Gilda in Rigoletto (Sarasota Opera), Hanna Glawari in Die lustige Witwe (Zomeropera, Belgium), Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte (Barbados Music Festival), and Giorgetta in Il Tabarro (Harrisburg Opera Association). Sponsored by The Solomon Family Foundation Trust
MUSA NGQUNGWANA – BASS
Musa Ngqungwana, a native of South Africa, graduated with Honors in Performance from the University of Cape Town. He then went on to earn his artist diploma from the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. In 2014, Mr. Ngqungwana received the Marian Anderson Award at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and also won the Cesare Santeremo/Dr. Campbell Award from Opera Index in NYC. Musa is the 2013 Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the 2013 recipient of the Lissner Charitable Award from the Licia Abanese/Puccini International Vocal Competition, and the 2013 recipient of the Apollo Music Trust. In the 2015-16 season, Musa will perform the role of Queequeg in Moby Dick in his debut with the Los Angeles Opera. He sings Zuniga in Carmen in a return to Palm Beach Opera, and Gottardo in Rossini’s La Gazza Ladra with the Glimmerglass Festival. Last season, Musa debuted first with Washington National Opera as Colline in La Bohème, and also with the Norwegian National Opera in the role of Zuniga in Carmen. He performed Freihold in Guntram with Washington Concert Opera and Dr. Dulcamara in L’Elisir d’Amore with the Florentine Opera of Milwaukee.
TOBIAS GREENHALGH – BARITONE
American baritone Tobias Greenhalgh made his European debut last season as a member of the Junges Ensemble of the Theater an der Wien singing the title role in Eugene Onegin.This season he sings Ned Keene (Peter Grimes) under Cornelius Meister and Littore (L’incoronazione di Poppea) on the main stage alongside performances at the Wiener Kammeroper as Escamillo (Carmen) and Peter (Hänsel und Gretel). Previous roles in Vienna include Argante (Rinaldo), Ramiro (L’heure Espagnole), Cecco (Gli Uccellatori) and both Le Directeur and Le Gendarme (Les mamelles de Tirésias). Tobias has given recitals for Brooklyn Art Song Society (Mörike Lieder) and performed three programmes for the New York Festival of Song. A skilled concert artist, recent highlights include Bach’s St Matthew Passion with Soli Deo Gloria and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs with St George’s Choral Society. Tobias was a finalist at the Operalia competition in 2015.
JASON DUIKA – BARITONE
Baritone Jason Duika is quickly making a name for himself in the classical music world. Being praised by Oregon music news for having a, “big, warm voice” and, “spot-on comic timing”. Last year at Palm Beach Opera, he covered Schaunard in Puccini’s La Bohème, and made his company debut as The Corporal in Donizetti’s La Fille Du Régiment. This year at Palm Beach Opera, he will be singing the roles of Dancairo in Carmen and Dr. Malatesta in the family performance of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, and covering Escamillo, the Toreador in Carmen, and Harlequin in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos. He is delighted to be returning to Palm Beach Opera and thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful season.
ROBERT WATSON – TENOR
Tenor Robert Watson, a native of Kansas City, MO, made his professional debut as a Noble in Wagner’s Lohengrin with San Francisco Opera. He returned to SFO to create the role of Henry Cox in the world premiere of Picker’s Dolores Claiborne. As a Filene Young Artist at Wolf Trap Opera, Watson portrayed Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with the National Symphony Orchestra; Bergearss in Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles; the titular character in Milhaud’s Le pauvre matelot; and Remendado in Carmen. He has appeared as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and in recital at the Phillips Collection. He is an alumnus of Merola Opera Program and the Opera Santa Barbara Studio. Roles performed include The Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, and Nika Magadoff in Menotti’s The Consul. Watson placed second in the 2014 Irene Dalis Award. He is a recipient of a Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation and a Catherine Filene Shouse Education Career Grant. He is a two-time Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions regional finalist. He attended the San Francisco Conservatory, and is a graduate of Oklahoma City University. He is a second-year Young Artist with Palm Beach Opera.
JESSICA FISHENFELD – SOPRANO
American Soprano Jessica Fishenfeld joins Palm Beach Opera’s Young Artist Program this season, singing the roles of Frasquita (Carmen), Najade (Ariadne auf Naxos), and covering/singing the family performance of Norina in Don Pasquale. Recent credits include Lakmé in Lakmé and Zerlina in Don Giovanni at Manhattan School of Music; Zerlina in Dona Vaughn’s masterclass “Don Giovanni: Love is a Battlefield” at the Metropolitan Opera Guild; Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, receiving accolades for her “crystalline and pure” voice and “spot on comedic timing” at Miami Summer Music Festival; Tytania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Annina (La Traviata) with Highlands Opera Studio; Musetta cover (La Bohème) at North Shore Music Festival; Adele (Die Fledermaus), and Clara (The Light in the Piazza) at NYU Steinhardt; Dew Fairy/Gretel cover (Hansel and Gretel) with Hubbard Hall Opera Theatre. She was a finalist in the 2015 Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Vocal Competition.
FLEUR BARRON – MEZZO SOPRANO
Mezzo soprano Fleur Barron was the 1st Prize Winner of the 2013 Liederkranz Competition (Art Song division) and she made her Carnegie Hall debut in the Winner’s Concert. In 2015, Fleur joined the young artist program at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, performing in Carmen, Donizetti’s Poliuto, Handel’s Saul and Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortileges. Also in 2015, she sang the title role in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with baroque orchestra, for which Opera News singled her out as a “promising singer…a slender, striking-looking young woman with an intriguingly dark and complex mezzo-soprano.” Fleur was also invited by Brigitte Fassbaender to participate in a week of public masterclasses at the Liederhalle, Stuttgart; reviewing the final concert, Der Neue Merker noted that Fleur sang with “a distinctive mezzo of rich maturity and voluminous expression.” Upcoming performances include a recital at the prestigious Oxford Lieder Festival (U.K.) and joining the Palm Beach Opera young artist program, where she will sing Mercedes and cover the title role in Carmen, and sing Dryad in Ariadne auf Naxos and Pepa in Goyescas (Granados). Fleur has also participated in the young artist programs of the Caramoor Festival (2012), Lyric Opera Virginia (2011-2012) and the Martina Arroyo Foundation (2010). Fleur holds a Master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music and a B.A. in Comparative Literature with highest honors from Columbia University. She studies with Dr. Stephen King and Cynthia Hoffmann.
ACT I. In a square in Seville, soldiers watch the passing crowd. Micaela arrives in search of her sweetheart, Don José, a corporal. A fellow officer, Morales, tells her José will be along soon; when he offers himself as a substitute, she leaves hastily. As the guard changes, children imitate the arriving soldiers (“Avec la garde montante”), one of whom is José. Girls from the cigarette factory come to smoke and chat (“Dans l’air”). Carmen, a Gypsy who works in the factory, flirts with the local men, airing her philosophy of life: love is a wild bird that cannot be tamed (Habanera: “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle”). José sits apart, distracted. Drawn by his indifference, Carmen tosses him a flower as the work bell calls the girls back inside. His musings on the bewitching “sorceress” are interrupted by Micaela, who brings news of José’s mother. She has sent him a kiss, which the girl delivers shyly (“Parle-moi de ma mère”). No sooner has she left than a disturbance is heard in the factory: Carmen is involved in a fight. The girls run out, arguing over who started it. Lt. Zuniga orders José to arrest Carmen. Her wrists bound, she is left alone with José, who forbids her to speak to him. Instead, she flirtatiously sings “to herself” about the rendezvous she might make with “a certain officer” who has taken her fancy (Seguidilla: “Près des remparts de Séville”). José, intoxicated, agrees to let her escape; when she pushes him to the ground and runs off, he is arrested for his negligence.
ACT II. A month later, at Lillas Pastia’s inn, Carmen sings a Gypsy song (“Les tringles des sistres tintaient”) and dances for the customers. The matador Escamillo arrives, boasting of his exploits (“Votre toast”). He is attracted to Carmen, who puts off his amorous advances. When the inn closes, Dancaire and Remendado try to convince Frasquita, Mercédès and Carmen to accompany them on their next smuggling trip. The girls are game, except forCarmen, who says she is in love with José and is awaiting his return from prison (quintet: “Nous avons en tête”). The others laugh at her, then depart as José is heard approaching. Carmen sings and dances for him, but when a distant bugle sounds the retreat, he says he must return to the barracks.Carmen mocks his blind obedience, saying he doesn’t love her; he replies by telling her how he has kept the flower she threw, the scent of its wilted blossom conjuring up her image in his prison cell (“La fleur que tu m’avais jetée”). He refuses her suggestion that he desert the army to join her wild mountain life, but when Zuniga breaks in, looking for Carmen, the jealous José attacks his superior. Carmen summons the other Gypsies, who hold Zuniga captive until they can get away. José, now an outlaw, has no choice but to join their band. The Gypsies rejoice in their life of freedom.
ACT III. In the smugglers’ mountain hideout, José regrets that he has betrayed his mother’s hopes. Carmen finds his homesickness and obsessive jealousy tiresome. Telling him he may as well leave, she joins her friends, reading fortunes in the cards. Frasquita foresees a lover for herself, Mercédès a rich husband, but Carmen sees only death (“En vain pour éviter”). When the Gypsies leave José as lookout, Micaela enters, frightened but determined to find him (“Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante”). She hides at the sound of a shot, fired by José as a warning to a trespasser — Escamillo. When it becomes clear that the two men are rivals, they start to fight but are separated by the Gypsies. Escamillo invites them all to his next bullfight and leaves. Remendado discovers Micaela, who has come to beg José to return home to his ailing mother. Carmen dismisses him willingly, but José vows to find her again after he has seen his mother.
ACT IV. In Seville’s Plaza de Toros, the crowd gathers for the bullfight, hailing Escamillo. He and Carmen declare their love, and he enters the ring. Carmen’s friends warn that José has been spotted nearby, looking desperate, but she is a fatalist and defiantly remains to face him. He enters (“C’est toi?”) and begs her to return to him. She replies that everything is finished between them, and she tosses in his face a ring he once gave her. The crowd is heard cheering Escamillo. When Carmen tries to run past José, he stabs her, then falls by her body in despair.
Photo: Branco Gaica for Opera Australia