Adelaide Festival 2019: Carmen

Review by Olivia De Zilva

Where: Adelaide Festival Centre

When: 8–10 March

Cost: $35-$199

This iteration of Georges Bizet’s masterpiece sees Carmen reimagined as a theatric melodrama with elements of classical and contemporary dance.

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Ayaha Tsunaki as Carmen. Image via. Adelaide Festival.

Presented by the Dresden Semperoper Ballett and choreographed by Johan Inger, this seductive and expressive production of Carmen moves away from the technicalities seen on the stage of the stages of the Bolshoi and Mariinsky ballets of Russia. Inger’s vision of this classic femme fatale tale delves deeper into the emotional state of it’s characters, the eponymous Carmen (Ayaha Tsunaki), her tortured lover Don José (Jón Vallejo), the Little Boy (Anna Merkulova) and the illustrious Officer Zúñiga (Gareth Haw).

With a simplistic set and the strength of the corps, Inger’s Carmen paints a devastating picture of love, loss, betrayal and jealousy.

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Jón Vallejo as Don José. Image via Adelaide Festival.

Incorporating the classic soundtrack of Bizet’s original opera, the production creates a contrasting image of tradition and change. With the dancers off pointe and out of the classic red-tutus associated with Carmen for many a decade, the show feels much more colloquial and connected to its audiences. Tsunaki is the perfect Carmen, displaying a bittersweet emotion through her seduction of the various men who cross her path. Her lover, Don José (Vallejo) breaks down the conventions of a typical macho leading man with visceral solos flooded in an eerie darkness which exudes from his almost animalistic style of dance. The cast is cohesive, emphasising a swift turn in the idea of what it is to be balletic. Though not always technically perfect and precise, they are smooth and sensational, illustrating how dance can be a platform to invoke deep and meaningful emotions.

Carmen is an exciting inclusion to this year’s Festival line-up. With the right amounts of emotion, seduction, theatrics and entertainment, it delivers as a stellar dance production perfect for lovers of classical and contemporary dance.

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