STAR-STUDDED CAST FOR BIZET’S CARMEN AT TEATRU ASTRA
Georges Bizet’s opera highlights two character types: the femme fatale, and the sentimental heroine. Carmen, the beautiful yet daring and elusive gypsy who seduces Don Jose is the former, opposed by Micaela, young, naïve and trusting, while also emotionally involved with Don Jose. Carmen is the perfect femme fatale; exotic, independent, and confident enough to use her sexuality to her advantage. By contrast, Micaela is the ideal 19th–century woman; pure, modest, and above all, innocent. Performing a character analysis of these characters is a feat. Choosing suitable singers for the roles, is an achievement.
This has been the primary evaluation behind Teatru Astra’s choice of Sanja Anastasia for the title role. The Serb Mezzo is not a new face at Astra, having performed in Aida and Il Trovatore to the delight of her patrons. Anastasia was even chosen to sing this role at the Arena di Verona meeting international critical acclaim. Her dark, rich, and strong voice is known to melt hearts everywhere, while her acting abilities admittedly get the audience overflowing with emotions.
Her counterpart, Micaela, will be performed by Georgian soprano Tea Purtseladze, known for her performances at the opening of the 2020 Oscar nomination ceremonies alongside Andrea Bocelli, and for being chosen by tenor Marcello Giordani to play the role of Tosca alongside himself. Purtseladze is known to have the kind of voice that can conquer the opera world, having played the role in several of Europe’s most prestigious theatres and festivals. Purtseladze was hailed by the mythical Renata Scotto as a great performer of Micaela’s role, reminding Scotto of her very own artistic eloquence and stage presence.
Don Jose will be performed by Uruguayan tenor Carlo Ventre, another staple in the international cast line-up, performing frequently in Rome, Verona, Frankfurt, Munich, Budapest, Palermo, New York’s Metropolitan, and above all Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, where he found himself with Riccardo Muti as the conductor who chose him to play the role of the Duke in Rigoletto. Ventre is a known lirico-spinto tenor, proceeding gracefully on the footsteps of illustrious forerunners such as Gigli and Bjorling, and will certainly offer a delightful appearance on Teatru Astra’s stage.
Escamillo, the glamorous torero who Carmen turns her attention to, consequently losing her attraction to Don Jose, will be played by Romanian baritone Serban Vasile, who albeit of quite a young age, has already left his mark on the opera world by winning several contests and appearing in the role of Escamillo in a myriad of productions worldwide. Among others he has been featured in Decca’s recording of Falstaff at the New York’s Metropolitan under the baton of James Levine.
Local talent is not blown over either, with Teatru Astra being known for debuting world class artists such as Joseph Calleja. This production will present local stars Nicola Said as Frasquita and Marvic Monreal as Mercedes, as well as Noel Galea and Gozo’s emergent shining star Charles Buttigieg as Zuniga and Morales respectively. El Remendado and El Dancairo will be played by Alberto Munafò and Federico Parisi respectively.
This production will be under the artistic direction of Enrico Stinchelli, and will feature the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of John Galea, and the Teatru Astra Opera Chorus coached by Mariella Spiteri Cefai. The theatre’s young Children’s Choir, Piccole Stelle, under the direction of Sylvana Attard will also feature in this opera.
Carmen will be presented on the 27th and 29th October 2022 at Teatru Astra, Victoria – Gozo. The opera is the highlight of the nineteenth edition of Festival Mediterranea. Bookings can be done online through www.teatruastra.org.mt. More information is available on 2155 0985.
The opera at Teatru Astra is supported by the Gozo Cultural Support Programme managed by the Arts Council Malta and the Ministry for Gozo.