Pas­sion, ro­mance and revo­lu­tion on stage

Shanghai Daily - - CULTURE - Zhang Qian

Car­men, the le­gendary Gypsy woman first born in Pros­per Mérimée’s novel and widely spread through Bizet’s opera, will again stage her love and pur­suit in Shang­hai, this time as a Cuban girl singing and danc­ing in au­then­tic Cuban style.

Mu­si­cal “Car­men la Cubana” star­ring Cuban singers Luna Man­zanares Nardo and Saeed Mo­hamed Valdes will make its Asian pre­miere at SAIC Shang­hai Cul­ture Square from De­cem­ber 12 to 23.

It is not the first mu­si­cal based on the well-known story, but it is the first time for the story to be set against the sim­mer­ing tur­moil of revo­lu­tion in Cuba in 1958.

The creative team spent three months in Ha­vana with Cuban per­form­ers and artists, pre­par­ing for the new mu­si­cal, ac­cord­ing to di­rec­tor Christo­pher Ren­shaw.

“It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence to be sur­rounded by rich mu­sic and San­te­ria cul­ture, which we use as im­por­tant el­e­ments for the mu­si­cal,” said Ren­shaw.

“Pas­sion, ro­mance, salsa and revo­lu­tion com­pose the dreamy work for me as a mu­si­cal di­rec­tor.”

Bizet’s clas­sic scores are kept for the mu­si­cal, while new or­ches­tra­tion was made by Tony and Grammy-award win­ner Alex La­camoire, who is of Cuban ori­gin. He mixed opera with salsa, mambo, rumba, cha-cha-cha and mu­si­cal fa­vorites like Ha­banera.

With a 14-piece Latin band and over 20 per­form­ers, the au­di­ences will see how Car­men’s own fight for in­de­pen­dence is found in the spirit of the Cuban Revo­lu­tion.

Of course, au­di­ences will still hear the hits such as “Amor,” “Hay un barcito en la es­quina” and “La Flor.”

“Car­men rep­re­sents the pur­suit for love and free­dom, which makes the story time­less,” said 28-year-old Nardo, who plays Car­men. “She is a hero not only for women, but ev­ery­one as to what a strong free per­son can be.”

Nardo, who be­gan her mu­si­cal ca­reer at the age of 9, is a star in Cuba.

The young singer has so far recorded 15 al­bums and fea­tured in seven movie sound­tracks.

Yet, Car­men is the first role she has tried to per­form on stage.

“It was a bit hard to open up at first for a zero-ex­pe­ri­ence ac­tress like me. But I quickly found it in­ter­est­ing as I was dis­cov­er­ing new things about my­self. Both singing and act­ing are about in­ter­pret­ing feel­ings. All I need to do is to turn my­self into a dif­fer­ent artist.”

Saeed Mo­hamed Valdes, who plays Jose, is more familiar with singing char­ac­ters on stage.

He con­sid­ers him­self in real life very dif­fer­ent from Jose in the story.

“To be frank, I don’t think I will ever fall in love with a girl like Car­men in real life,” said Valdes.

Date: De­cem­ber 12-23, 2pm (Satur­day and Sun­day), 7:30pm

Venue: SAIC Shang­hai Cul­ture Square

Address: 597 Fux­ing Rd M.

Tick­ets: 80-880 yuan

Tel: 6472-9000

Saeed Mo­hamed Valdes and Luna Man­zanares Nardo in “Car­men la Cubana”

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