The Compañía Nacional de Danza, directed by José Carlos Martínez, brings Carmen back on stage. This emblematic title, breaks completely this time with the traditional point of view of the story, as coming to life in a new version choreographed by Johan Inger.
These days, the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid hosts the CND, sponsored by the Loewe Foundation. It is a contemporary and courageous piece, which leaves Carmen on an equal plane; Johan Inger has created a new version that modifies the romantic image of the well-known Spanish character and sets the story in a social context that has to do with ourselves, with our present reality.
Johan Inger is an internationally renowned choreographer emerged from the Royal Swedish Ballet and the Nederlands Dans Theater, and former Director of the Cullberg Ballet; he has had the courage to face -precisely in Spain- a purely Spanish character, reconsidering the social and gender stereotypes of Carmen over the centuries. In collaboration with the actor and playwright Gregor Acuña-Pohl, Inger has been investigating fully the work of Prosper Merimée and has moved away from Bizet’s opera. Bizet’s work, with its brilliant score and scenes from the Spanish tradition, left a scar on several generations of people because of its romantic charm and manners; but perhaps alienated the authenticity of the original characters: Carmen and José.
From the original novel, dated in 1847, Inger has created a work that requires us to understand José’s crime as an attack on Carmen’s freedom, and shows a clear case of gender violence; it is an unjustifiable and morally reprehensible crime. A character especially created for the occasion -a child- accompanies the viewer throughout the play, witnessing everything from the stage. His reactions, emulating those role models playing before him, show our responsibility towards situations involving domestic violence. The jealousy and the violence of José -in past centuries explained by the behaviour of Carmen, the protagonist- are now preventable and reprehensible nonsense acts.
With costumes designed by David Delfín, scenery by Curt Allen Wilmer, lighting by Tom Visser and original music composed by Marc Alvarez -completing Rodion Shchedrin’s original score –Carmen Suite, for strings and percussion- this Carmen seems destined to make the current audience discover the multiple perspectives that an emblematic story can always offer.
More information: 915 245 400, teatrodelazarzuela.mcu.es and at the box office of the theatre.
Photographs: Carmen © Jesús Vallinas for CND, 2015.