ASTANA – The Astana Opera made an artistic journey to 19th-century Spain on Friday with an adaptation of the opera “Carmen” by Italian director Lorenzo Amato, who transformed the classic into a spectacular realist production.
“It’s a very big production, with a lot of changes in the sets, incredible costumes, a lot of action and a lot of people on stage, at times there are about 180 people at the same time,” Amato said in an interview with EFE, describing his new take on “Carmen” as cinematic.
On the imposing stage, Kazakh mezzo-soprano Dina Khamzina shone in the starring role, accompanied by a large cast of impeccably costumed artists who transported spectators to the Seville of the mid-1800s.
The audience was likewise impressed by the many changes of scenery during the show and the presence of several large animals on stage.
“It’s easy to understand, it’s passionate, I can identify with Carmen ... It’s everything you believe or dream about, the mentality of Southern Europe, it’s wonderful, and the music is very good,” Susie Anabith, an Austrian who made the most of her stay in Astana to attend the premiere, told EFE.
Praising the quality of the musicians, she said she makes it a point to attend the Astana Opera whenever she visits the Kazakh capital.
For days, the “sold out” sign has hung for the premiere of “Carmen,” as there is increasing interest in opera here, while efforts are under way to bring acclaimed international artists to Astana.
“I am very happy that the people (in Kazakhstan) are responding so well,” Amato acknowledged.
The Italian director also highlighted the great opportunity that working at the Astana Opera represented, since “it’s an incredible, one-of-a-kind theater” that can accommodate productions that can’t be done in some European theaters due to budget issues.
Written by Georges Bizet in 1875, “Carmen” is one of the most performed operas in history, although the composer died three months after its first performance and didn’t witness its success.
Although many adaptations have been done, Amato stressed that each production of “Carmen” is different, because of the costumes or the performers, which on this occasion features Kazakh artists such as Sundet Baigozhin and Maira Mukhamedkyzy and the company’s outstanding musical director, Alan Buribayev.
“The stage of the Astana Opera is very up-to-date in technical terms, with lighting and other props that are needed to make an incredible production, this is a happy place for a director,” he said.
The Spanish ambassador to Kazakhstan, Pedro Sanz, said he was sure that Astana would overwhelmingly welcome “Carmen,” for its joy, vitality and strength.
“It will be a great party, as it always is for a performance of Carmen, one of the most popular operas in the world,” he told EFE.