Chattanooga Now Bizet's 'Carmen' opens Thursday at the Tivoli Theatre

Chattanooga Now Bizet's 'Carmen' opens Thursday at the Tivoli Theatre

April 10th, 2019 by Barry Courter in Chattnow Music

Richard Troxell is Don Jose.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

If you go

› What: “Carmen”

› Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

› When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, April 11 and 13

› Admission: $25-$125

› More info: chattanoogasymphony.org

"Madama Butterfly" was enough of a financial success when the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera presented it two years ago that the CSO has been able to stick to its commitment to present an opera biennially. This year's offering is the very popular "Carmen," which will be performed at the Tivoli Theatre on Thursday, April 11, and Saturday night, April 13.

"We had financial and programmatic success with bringing back grand opera during our 2016-17 season with 'Madama Butterfly,'" says CSO Executive Director Samantha Teter. "The excitement from the community around opera was palpable, and we are excited to bring a fully staged grand opera back this season with 'Carmen.'"

Elise Quagliata plays the title role in the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera's production of "Carmen."

Elise Quagliata plays the title role in the...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Music Director Emeritus Robert Bernhardt will conduct, as he did for "Madama Butterfly."

"Apparently, I do operas in which she dies," he says with a laugh.

"This is a real journey and some of it is very troubling," he said of the Georges Bizet work.

Set in southern Spain, the opera centers on Carmen, a beautiful and fiery gypsy who seduces Don José, a straight-laced soldier in the army. It's a tale of passion, obsession and spurned love.

It wasn't an immediate hit with audiences when it made its debut in 1875, and, in fact, was met with harsh criticism and negative reviews — with a scandalous heroine and the portrayal of characters as real men and women with raw emotions. It took nearly a decade for it to find an audience and has since become a worldwide operatic phenomenon. It is a favorite among longtime opera enthusiasts and those new to opera.

"For those who've experienced Bizet's 'Carmen' live, you will completely understand why we've chosen it for our next production," Bernhardt says. "The music is glorious and sensual, the story is timelessly tragic, and it's a vocal and orchestral tour de force filled with famous melodies and glorious ensembles.

"If you've never been to 'Carmen,' take this chance! The Tivoli Theatre is a wonderful opera house, and you'll get to feel every moment of this masterpiece in an intimate, personal way. You'll experience what opera lovers have known for nearly 150 years."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.