"Carmen" by Georges Bizet promotional poster

SFA School of Music will present its 2023 Opera Theater featuring Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” at 7:30 p.m. March 30 through April 1 in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The story of an entrancing and free-spirited girl and the inexorable impact of fate is featured when the School of Music at Stephen F. Austin State University presents Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen.” Based on a novella by Prosper Mérimée, “Carmen” will run nightly March 30 through April 1 in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.
“‘Carmen’ is an opera full of spectacle, love, jealousy, ambition, beautiful music and dramatic conflict,” according to Richard Berry, professor of voice at SFA and SFA Opera Theater director.
“As always, we chose this year’s opera because it was one well-suited for the student voices that are available,” Berry said. “We double- and triple-cast principal roles in order to give more of our excellent students the opportunity to perform a role in an opera.”
Although construction and renovation to the Griffith Fine Arts Building on the SFA campus is winding down into the project’s final months, Griffith’s W.M. Turner Auditorium is still not available for use. As a result, the Opera Theater will be presented in the Wright Music Building’s Cole Concert Hall again this year.
“The primary challenge in this year’s production is the lack of a theater in which to perform,” Berry said. “Cole Concert Hall is an excellent concert venue; however, it is not a theater. That means that it doesn’t have a large backstage area, and it doesn’t have an orchestra pit. There is no system for lowering and raising scenery, and lighting is limited. However, those challenges are being dealt with, and the students are getting a full operatic experience.”
Additionally, the performance demands of “Carmen” are significant, Berry explained. “This is a difficult opera, and preparing undergraduates and master’s degree students to sing roles that professional opera singers find challenging is quite a task,” he said. “But the students are working hard and are succeeding.”
The element of fate in controlling the lives of the characters is emphasized throughout the work, marked by a recurring musical theme. Audiences will hear memorable tunes, including the familiar “Haban᷈era” and the bullfighter’s “Toreador Song.”
Assistant director and production manager is voice faculty member Nita Hudson. Collaborative pianists for rehearsals and performances are Ron Petti and Hyo Jeong Ham. Chorus master is Tod Fish, associate director of choral activities; and the conductor is Greg Grabowski, director of orchestral activities. Gracie O’Dell, junior theatre major from Nacogdoches, is costume coordinator.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, March 30 through April 1. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for students and youth. For tickets, visit sfasu.edu/finearts or call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407. For more information about the opera or School of Music, call (936) 468-4602.