Bizet’s Carmen is one of the most performed and beloved operas and it has timeless resonance. The story of a woman who does exactly what she wants with her life, but has to pay the ultimate price in the end, losing her life because a man can’t take being rejected. The title character is sexually liberated, reveling in an outlaw life, and the patriarchal moral demands of Bizet’s time are still in play today: female sexual “outlaws” are not allowed to get away with it.
Despite what should be an outmoded ethical double standard, the ride in Carmen is a glorious one with some of the best known music and songs in the classical operatic canon, and watching Carmen flout every notion of rectitude is great fun! Kudos to Opera Santa Barbara’s lavish production, Leann Sandel-Pantaleo’s scintillating Carmen, Harold Meers’s Don José and the rest of the cast and crew. This was the best of the 6 Carmen operas I have seen, with outstanding pacing, singing, acting and music!