Iconic opera Carmen arrives on a new stage – comics

Carmen is considered one of the greatest operas of all time, and after being performed around the world, it reaches a new milestone: comics.

Arizona Opera has teamed up with writer / artist P. Craig Russell, artist Aneke, scholar Hassan Otsmane-Elahou and singer / opera director Alek Shrader to adapt Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen into a 90-page graphic novel which will debut in 2022. Russell will be drawing the layouts for Carmen: The Graphic Novel, with Aneke finishing, illustrating and coloring the pages.

Carmen: the cover of the graphic novel (Image credit: Aneke (Arizona Opera))

“It is a pleasure for Arizona Opera to share the work of this remarkable team of artists through the graphic novel format and the timeless story of Carmen,” said Arizona Opera President / CEO , Joseph Specter. “Throughout the pandemic, our company has consistently pursued new approaches to connecting people through opera, when people need art and meaning most. Carmen: The Graphic Novel represents an incredible opportunity to expand this focus on innovation, impact and community.

Carmen is set in Spain in the early 1800s and focuses on a soldier named Don Jos̩ who falls in love with a prisoner Рa Roma factory woman named Carmen. He allows her to escape and ends up joining smugglers with whom she is associated. His romantic intentions for Carmen are glaring, but not shared by her Рwhich pushes him down a road of jealousy that culminates in a battle between Don Jos̩ and a bullfighter Carmen loves named Escamillo.

The opera Carmen is written by Georges Bizet (based on the short story by Prosper Mérimée) and includes a libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy.

Carmen poster (2021)

Carmen poster (2021) (Image credit: Arizona Opera)

“It’s not for nothing that Carmen remains one of the most performed operas,” says Shrader. “Themes that were in vogue in Bizet’s day still captivate audiences. There is a power struggle between the sexes, a meditation on the issue of freedom versus fate, and a stark contrast between the way exotic life of Roma and a repressed society. And, of course, it’s all set to some of the most magnificent and melodious music of all operas. “

A comic strip published by an opera company? It’s unusual, but they have a plan. Carmen: The Graphic Novel was born out of the Arizona Opera OnPitch Business Challenge, in association with the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University and the WP Carey School of Business. Funding for the entire OnPitch program comes from a grant from OPERA America, which in turn is supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

“[Carmen is] the perfect opera for longtime opera enthusiasts and newcomers, ”continues Shrader. “And finally, that’s why I wanted to adapt Carmen with Arizona Opera. If you like Carmen, but are new to comics, you may appreciate the on-page storytelling. And if you’re a comic book fanatic but new to opera, here’s a book that practically sings. “

A Kickstarter campaign for Carmen: The Graphic Novel will be launched in early 2022, and a pre-launch page is already live for people to sign up for updates. Carmen: The Graphic Novel’s Kickstarter campaign is timed to coincide with upcoming Arizona Opera performances in Phoenix (January 2022) and Tuscon (February 2022).

Kickstarter is a thriving market for comics – here is a list of most successful Kickstarter comic campaigns all time.

About Madeline J. Carter

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