Carmen ballet

carmen ballet story

Music by Rodion Shchedrin after Georges Bizet
Choreography by Ananatoly Emelianov

Attempt to interpret Prosper Merimee’s short story by means of means of ballet theater isn’t new. To a premiere of the well-known opera of Georges Bizet heroes found it scenic life in the one-act ballet “Carmen and Toreador”, put young then Marius Petipa at the Madrid theater. And then choreographers repeatedly addressed to this plot, each time offering the interpretation of the literary primary source. In 1967 on a scene of the Bolshoi theater of Russia took place the prime minister of the one-act ballet “Carmen suite” in whom the main part was performed by great Maya Plisetskaya. Specially for it the ballet was put by the Cuban ballet master Alberto Alonso.

History of the performance

Georges Bizet composer

For the first time, the young Marius Petipa addressed the dramatic love story about a soldier and a gypsy described in the novel by Prosper Merim – literally a year after the novel appeared, he created the ballet Carmen and Torero on the stage of the Madrid Theater.

But the opera by Georges Bizet, created in 1875, brought the world fame to this plot – since its premiere, the music of this opera has “merged” with the history of Merimee so that staging a ballet with a different musical accompaniment seemed unthinkable.

The most famous productions of Carmen are the works of Roland Petit (1949), Alberto Alonso (1967, in the orchestration of Rodion Shchedrin without wind instruments, with percussion), Antonio Gades (1983), Mats Ek (1992).

Rodion Shchedrin composer

And each ballerina – Zizi Zhanmer, Maya Plisetskaya, Alicia Alonso, Anna Laguna, and on the modern Russian stage Svetlana Zakharova, Ulyana Lopatkina – interpreted a complex image in their own way. The freedom-loving and windy gypsy from the story of Merimee appeared either as a charming coquette, then strong and independent, then ready to die, but not to lose freedom, then immoral and cruel, openly demonstrating her primacy over men.

Anatoly Emelyanov staged Carmen ballet with his troupe “The Crown of Russian Ballet” in 2004; the premiere took place at the Natalia Sats Moscow Children’s Musical Theater. In this experimental production, The Fate did not appear on the stage – its image was embodied by the Bull performed by the choreographer himself. The choreography referred the audience to the previous versions of Alonso and Ek. The leading party in an unexpected interpretation was performed by Elena Muzyka – it was not a brilliant, attractive and ruthless fatal woman a la Plisetskaya’s image. She was a simple and rude Seville girl, desperately and boldly fighting with factory workers, passionately clinging to Jose, and in a momentready to fall at  the feet of the stunning Torero. Wild and natural in every outburst, she herself did not really understand her passions, unexpectedly difficult for an unusual soul.

Since 2014, the leading role in the production of Emelyanov has been danced by Lyudmila Titova, who first appeared on stage with this role during the tour “The Crown of Russian Ballet” in Germany. Lyudmila admitted in an interview that this role is her childhood dream. And “Carmen” firmly established itself in the repertoire of “Modern Russian Ballet” – “Emelyanov Dance Troupe.”

Carmen ballet story

On a city square in Seville it’s a guard changing. By the order of Correchidor, a representative of the local government, Jose is going to be on duty. A stately and slender military man attracts the attention of a local girl. This is Carmen, a gypsy. She tries to charm the young soldier, and he succumbs to her daring charm, but,being  faithful to the military duty, can not leave the post.

The order is broken by a fight between cigar-twists from a tobacco factory. By all accounts, Carmen is guilty of disturbing peace. Correhidor orders Jose to take the troublemaker to prison.

José is torn by contradictory feelings – he must obey the order, but the gypsy won his heart, and the soldier gives way to a love impulse: he lets the “criminal”go. Realizing that military duty has been violated, and unable to leave Carmen, the soldier aggravates the situation with desertion.

But he was not destined to enjoy the time with his lover for a long time – a favorite of the Seville audience, the young Torero, appeared. Courageous and graceful, effective in his bullfighter outfit, he impresses others with his boast of dangerous performance in the bullfighting arena. All the girls are crazy about him, and Carmen is not an exception . Jose is cruelly jealous, but the gypsy does not want to notice his suffering: who is he compared to the brilliant Torero! But the Correhidor appears, having lost the soldier, and demands the immediate return of the deserter to the barracks. But he is out of his mind – he is not up to service, he needs to return love! Threatening with a knife, he drives Correchidore away.

Carmen is impressed – she herself hates coercion and lives freely, like a bird. Now Jose, who broke the law, is her beloved again.

Carmen tells fortunes, and suddenly the motive of impending misfortune sounds, the Fate appears, symbolizing the inevitability of the terrible final of her life.

Bullfighting Arena. And again admiring gazes were turned on Torero – he bravely and brilliantly fights with a bull. But this is not just a bull – the Fate again shows itself in the form of a furious animal. Flighty Carmen admires the deadly dance of Toreador and the bull. But Jose comes – he no longer understands what is going on, because Carmen previously belonged to him! He seeks her attention and demands to revive the feelings to him. But Carmen is again passionate about the magnificent Toreador and rejects her former lover. In desperation, Jose kills her with the same knife …

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