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Opera double bill at New Wimbledon Theatre
Tales of true love and treachery are told through a kaleidoscope of colour for two operas that aim to entertain rather than educate, writes Clare Buchanan.
Opera and Ballet International presents Ellen Kent’s new productions of Carmen and Tosca, with the Moldovan National Opera and the Moldovan National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Puccini’s Tosca is an epic tale of true love set in Rome and based on a play by Victorien Sardou.
It features torture, murder and suicide alongside some of opera’s best-known music.
Diva Floria Tosca fears for the fidelity of her lover Mario only to discover that it is Baron Scarpia’s lust for her that endangers that love.
A complex agreement of bargains and bluffs follow before a truly tragic ending.
Kent visited Puccini’s house in Italy in preparation for the staging of Tosca, brought to life with extravagant sets and luxurious costumes.
She says: “It was quite magical. I didn’t think it would be quite so inspiring. It was almost eerie – exactly as you would imagine someone with Puccini’s mind to have, with beautiful memorabilia everywhere.
"There were his shoes and clothes and pipes and all the models of his operas and his actual scores with all his notes on them.
“The walls were painted with frescos and there was exquisite stained glass everywhere.”
Bizet’s opera Carmen tells of the downfall of soldier Don Jose, who is seduced by the fiery
Abandoning both his childhood sweetheart and his military career, Jose pursues Carmen but loses her to bullfighter Escamillo and ends up in a jealous rage.
Kent says: “I try to do opera that people actually want to see – that people can identify with and cry and feel moved.
“I aim to make opera understandable and enjoyable – using the same genre as the best of musicals, such as Phantom of the Opera or Miss Saigon.
"People don’t want to be educated, they want to be entertained and have a great night out.”