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Carmen: Nevada Opera opens with a classic
by Cortney Maddock
Sep 30, 2009 | 1202 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy photo - Kirsten Gunlagson
Courtesy photo - Kirsten Gunlagson
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Courtesy photo - John Pickle
Courtesy photo - John Pickle
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Courtesy photo - Dennis Jesse
Courtesy photo - Dennis Jesse
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Starting the season with a unique performance, the Nevada Opera will perform “Carmen” on Friday and Sunday. Not only will “Carmen” be performed in its original French, but the performance also will stay true to the 1875 original and include the spoken dialogue usually cut out in other performances.

“Carmen” was written by Frenchman Georges Bizets and premiered in Paris as a Opera-Comique in 1875. A classic tale of love, betrayal and jealousy, “Carmen” follows the twisted path of a gypsy girl of the same name.

Playing the character of Carmen, Kirsten Gurlogson said the complex characters and storyline make the Spanish-culture-inspired opera fun and exciting.

“I think Carmen is a very exciting, complicated, unique, strong, sensual and complicated character,” Gurlogson said of the title role. “She has a lot of different facets to show of herself.”

Carmen, who is a gypsy in the opera set in 1830s Seville, Spain, is no doubt a sly and manipulative character but as men filter in and out of her life, Carmen sees her fate in the tarot cards.

“The story is very intriguing,” Gurlogson said. “It’s very fast moving and keeps you very interested in the characters.”

In addition to the street-smart Carmen, Gurlogson joins a cast of talented performers that bring the opera’s complicated characters to life. Escamillo, a Spanish bullfighter and Carmen’s love interest, is played by Dennis Jesse. The tormented ex-lover Don Jose is played by John Pickle and Micaela, who always seems to be inadvertently involved in the drama, is played by Suzanne Woods.

Gurlogson said that despite the Spanish flare, the story is really tragic.

“It is a dark story,” Gurlogson said. “But one filled with colors and dancing. There’s love and betrayal, everything that makes for a good opera.”

Gurlogson said Carmen values her freedom and independence more than anything else, which creates a tension between Carmen’s lovers and herself.

“The final scene is a masterpiece of a duet between Carmen and her ex-lover at that point, Don Jose,” Gurlogson said. “It is such an amazing, dramatic climax to an evening and this journey.”

Gurlogson said that playing Carmen is exciting and Carmen is an interesting character to play because of her fate.

“Carmen predicts her own death with the tarot cards,” Gurlogson said. “It’s something she sort of envisions will happen. It is a testament to her strength as a character. Carmen accepts her fate, no pun intended, but accepts that this is the hand I’ve been dealt.”

Gurlogson, who has been signing since she was 16 years old, said “Carmen” is a great opera to attend if someone has not experienced an opera before.

“I really encourage folks who have never been to an opera before to come check out this performance,” Gurlogson said. “Its music will be very familiar. It is music that you have heard on TV and in commercials. It has a great Spanish flair about it.”

For people who might be worried about understanding the French dialogue, Gurlogson said, “Don’t be.”

“The text is about the stage,” Gurlogson said, adding people can read long in the program. “It’s going to be fun. It’s such a great cast.”

Gurlogson said she has known Nevada Opera musical director Michael Borowitz for some time but this is her first performance with his group. She said she is very happy to be performing with the Nevada Opera.

“I think opera is a wonderful art form in that you have wonderful art accompanying you,” Gurlogson said. “You have a full orchestra accompanying you. There are theatrical costumes and makeup. Operatic singing is the highest level of vocal difficulty. It’s all these wonderful art forms coming together.”

Gurlogson said she has been singing professionally since college.

“I started singing when I was about 16 years old,” Gurlogson said. “I began singing professionally while I was still in college working on my master’s degree, so I was about 23 years old.

“I’ve been lucky to be working ever since,” Gurlogson added. “It’s a lot of hard work and individual time and dedication as well. You work your hardest and do your best and hope that life puts you in the right place at the right time.”

To enjoy the fruits of Gurlogson and her fellow singers, catch a performance of “Carmen” on either Friday at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday at 2 p.m. Performances will be held at the Pioneer Center for Performing Arts at 100 S. Virginia St. in downtown Reno.

Ticket prices start at $28 and can be purchased by visiting www.pioneercenter.com or by calling 686-6600. Tickets are also sold at the Pioneer box office, which is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For additional information about the Nevada Opera, including a thorough question and answer section for people who are considering going, but have not attended an opera before, visit www.nevadaopera.org.

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