Opera like you’ve never seen it: a grungy Carmen is coming to Sydney

Carmen on Cockatoo Island Summer 678x449 1

Do away with the dresses and bring out the elbow grease; Carmen is back in Sydney.

Normally the saucy southern Spaniard, bringing her heat from the ramparts of Seville to the stage of Sydney is dress-adorned and flaunting what she’s got the enjoyment of fellow cast and audiences – this this time ’round we’re looking at something different.

Think Carmen with an Amy Winehouse beehive and all the animal prints your heart can desire. Oh, and motor bikes.

Cast rehearsal Carmen

It’s something new for Opera Australia, which over the past half a decade and maybe longer has erred on the side of reimagined traditional and minimalistically chic in its stage productions, costumery and on-stage – or pontoon in the case of the annual Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour!

And it’s a welcome change. Under the direction of the acclaimed Liesel Badorrek, a cast of brilliant singers and musicians, 12 contemporary dancers and three motorbike riders have begun weaving together the story of Carmen, who Liesel says is the ultimate femme fatale.

“This is Carmen as you’ve never seen it before. For me it is a story about misfits, fringe dwellers and outsiders and nothing says that like rock ‘n’ roll.

“Sydney’s Cockatoo Island is an industrial and gritty place so we have taken that aesthetic to the next level with the sets and costumes to create a thrilling set. You will feel like you’ve entered our world of Carmen as soon as you step off the ferry, it really is going to be a unique experience,” said director Liesel Badorrek.

Incorporating such a diverse range of elements, including motorcycles and nightly fireworks, is an exciting prospect for choreographer Shannon Burns, who previously worked on Opera Australia’s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour production of La Traviata.

“We are creating a new world and the dancers support that world with a dynamic display of unapologetic and expressive movement across multiple genres. Expect the unexpected. Carmen on Cockatoo Island will be an all-encompassing experience set against the stunning backdrop of Sydney Harbour,” says choreographer Shannon Burns. 

Rehearsals for the production are only now kicking off while it’s scheduled to take place on Sydney’s Cockatoo Island; a charming little outcrop in the middle of the famous Sydney Harbour with panoramic views of the city as a dramatic backdrop.

It’ll be quite the show to see. For more info, head to the Opera Australia website.

Opera Carmen 1