Kate Aldrich por­trays the gypsy siren in Hawaii Opera The­atre’s pro­duc­tion, which opens to­day

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - PRE­SENTED BY HAWAII OPERA

Look up the et­y­mol­ogy of the name “Car­men” and you’ll find sev­eral def­i­ni­tions, from “song” (Latin) to “guard” (He­brew) to “gar­den” (Spanish). But for the last 140 years or so, it’s re­ally come to mean only one thing: Ge­orge Bizet’s beloved opera, and the hot­blooded, se­duc­tress for which it is named. Mezzo so­prano Kate Aldrich, who por­trays the gypsy siren in Hawaii Opera The­atre’s pro­duc­tion open­ing to­day, thinks of Car­men as a mod­ern wo­man. “She’s very in­de­pen­dent,” Aldrich said. “She’s very se­cure in who she is, and she has no prob­lem with al­low­ing her­self to be vul­ner­a­ble, to be hon­est. That is very at­trac­tive to peo­ple.”

Bizet’s work has proven indis­putably at­trac­tive to opera lovers. De­spite be­ing panned by crit­ics at its 1875 pre­miere, “Car­men” is one of the most fre­quently per­formed op­eras in the world. Many of its in­di­vid­ual tunes, from Car­men’s slinky Ha­banera in the first act to the pow­er­ful Tore­ador Song of act two, have en­tered into the can­non of clas­si­cal mu­sic.

The story, mean­while, has proven timely and true to life, em­body­ing love, jeal­ousy and drama. “‘Car­men,’ I think is very cur­rent,” said Aldrich, who has a sym­pa­thetic view of her char­ac­ter — com­par­ing her to women who are vic­tims


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of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in the present day, when men kill their part­ners over their de­sire to leave the re­la­tion­ship.

“It’s so of­ten looked at as, ‘Car­men, this evil wo­man! She’s se­duc­ing th­ese men and drop­ping them, and she made him do it. … It’s all Car­men’s fault.’ It’s not. That’s re­ally an abu­sive men­tal­ity,” Aldrich said.

“CAR­MEN” TELLS the story of trou­bled sol­dier Don Jose, who is drawn to the gypsy Car­men. She falls in love with him, and also ma­nip­u­lates him to her own ben­e­fit at the same time.

It’s hardly a match made in heaven. Guest di­rec­tor Tara Fair­cloth calls them “the worst


Above, Kate Aldrich as Car­men falls in love with Don Jose, played by Kip Wil­born. Dar­ren Stokes, left, stars as the bull­fighter Es­camillo, who com­petes for Car­men’s af­fec­tion.

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