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  Dancers Kimberly Cowen and Logan Pachciarz in Carmen in spring 2007. Photographer Steve Wilson.

Choreography: William Whitener
Music: Shchedrin

Prosper Merimee first published his story, Carmen, in 1845. The story revolves around the gypsy, Carmen, and Don Jose, a Basque military officer. One of Merimee’s trips to Spain in 1830 initiated a life-long friendship with the aristocratic Montijo family, including the daughter, Eugenia, who married Emperor Napoleon III of France in 1853. The story of Carmen was born from an incident told to Merimee by Eugenia’s mother, the Countess Montijo.

The name Carmen, stemming from Latin roots, means a song, poem, or magic spell as exemplified by the central character of the story who is associated with song, dance, seduction and “Gypsy magic”.

The story concerns the fiery tempered Carmen who captures the heart of Don Jose and leads him to renounce allegiance to the military. Jose becomes part of Carmen’s world and is eventually driven to madness when she becomes infatuated with the bullfighter Escamillo.

Whitener’s work is created as an impression of Merimee’s story in which he explores the emotional and physical lives of its characters. He set his work to Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin’s arrangement of the well-known Bizet score. Shchedrin wrote his Carmen Suite as a vehicle to star his wife, Maya Plisetskaya of the Bolshoi Ballet. Composer and arranger Beau Bledsoe has contributed musical passages in the Flamenco style and guest artist Sara de Luis, who appears in this ballet, has provided additional choreography.

World Premiere: May 3, 2007, Lyric Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri


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