Teatro San Carlo

Carmen’s challenge: Spain interpreted by a French-singing choir from Naples; it’s beautiful, because this contradiction is a part of my whole world: I work in a fifty-strong theatre company, originating from 18 countries, where speaking different languages opens us to unusual horizons, because nobody speaks right but we all understand each-other. There are topics rich with doubts, for example violence on women: already blocking the road, already hindering someone from going in the direction of their choice, even if this seems unfair and evil, but each one of us has the right to undertake certain choices. In Carmen it was necessary to find a way to express all this without falling into stereotypes. So the light, the splendour of the gates to Seville, this light that creates areas of brightness and areas of shade allows us to highlight this minimal specularity that we have: areas of night and areas of day, we are radiant and magnificent in our want for freedom, and at times we act tragically in trampling on others’ souls without even noticing.
We have tried to create this Carmen with a mirror-floor which would make it possible for us to continuously overturn the up and the down, and which would also make each character more complex. The interpretation of our Carmen means to put to light the fragility of each character in order to avoid that each of them would become either winners or losers. When Julie, Maria, Hugo, Geneviève, Alexis and I met together with the entire creative team, we tried to focus on images that, superimposed on each other, would create an enchantment.
The language of truism, on stage, may at times make everything more false. To create a mirror, a surreal world where directing the choir and singers to move creates images that may be truer than reality itself: we tried to unearth this extraordinary score, looking for the more hidden aspects.
This direction has also been thought under a pictorial perspective, light is defined – also – by brush strokes, using four dominant colours: yellow in the first act, white in the second, followed by black and red. With Giovanna we have again tried to build a chromaticity, with Hugo a scenography to make lights and costumes share one direction, where the brush strokes would highlight moods in a pictorial fashion: we want it to be Spain, but we don’t necessarily have to represent it under all aspects. So yes, there are those doors that remind us of Seville, there are the sonorities, and all of a sudden the costumes which belong to a place but get mixed up, a dimension that reminds us of the language of dreams. We have tried to get certain images from the unconscious to resurface, and all of a sudden we recognise each other, because their interpretation is not totally straightforward or truist; they come to light and they disappear all the time, like fish underwater, that you can’t see, but you perceive their presence and their movements.

Daniele Finzi Pasca

In the beginning the preoccupation was that of finding elements that would remind the audience of the Spanish reality, but also presenting a tie with Naples, and at the same time hint at a more international context: Carmen’s story could happen anywhere. We sought after the mystery and we wanted to rediscover that esprit d’enfance in order to create an effect of wonder and marvel for a well-known story which has been staged hundreds of times under settings that don’t bring anything new.
Some consistent work has been done around the performers: at times we have used scenic machines, or images that were almost cinematographic, or paintings of light, which at first glance appear to cover or crush the performer, though in reality our intention was that of increasing their presence, transporting them to an imaginary place, where it would be possible to throw light on their human aspect. Often our work as directors entails the refinement of each singer’s person, at the same time leaving them space for some freedom, inside a structure where each performer may stand out in all their power, their beauty, their talent and their interpretation. Beyond the directors’ indications, the centre of what we have sought is fragility: in each character there is a key moment where they find themselves in front of either a life-long choice, or a time when their strength suddenly turns into a weakness or even tragedy; even Escamillo, at one pint, falls over. Don José, for example, loses his temper and reveals a strong reaction, an aspect that not even he could have imagined.
Two literary references come to mind, Max Picard’s Hitler in uns selbst, and Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s La Part de l’autre, both of which depict Hitler’s life to the point where he sought to pursue his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts: being refused entry as a painter, how could his parallel life develop? Adapting this perusal in the Carmen’s context reveals itself very interesting. Don José was a good man but then he turns into something different. At this exact point of rupture, of fragility, which exists in each of us, lies Don José’s ordeal.
I am a musician, composer and dancer, I usually compose the music to our shows, when we tackle opera I take care of the dramaturgical, directing and choreographic aspects, and my approach leads me to the scores first of all, and only later to the text, but the scores tell me all I need to know already; Bizet, for example, has masterfully placed his climaxes.
The theatre we make is not truist, on the contrary one ever present topic in our plays is the subtle boundary between what is true and what is not: illusion. Our dilemma has been how to represent death in order to make an impact on the audience: should we show blood? Our poetics dictate we should avoid this kind of representation, we much rather tell our stories through poetry and metaphors.
Our job as artists is to touch the human soul’s strings through metaphor. Carmen’s passion and the violence throughout the opera have been told through the Theatre of the Caress, suggesting images that may open one’s mind to an imaginary world where one can be touched, and one can understand and perhaps ponder.
The light is an amplification of the character, their light and dark sides, it is not just what they radiate, but also what happens in relation to others: it is the expression of the relations between the character and the world surrounding them. In this way the light evokes a dreamlike dimension, that of the characters, who can relive experiences they had lived through dreams or memories.

Maria Bonzanigo


Music by Georges Bizet
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy

Conductor | Zubin Mehta / Jacques Delacôte
Director and Light Designer | Daniele Finzi Pasca
Creative Associate | Julie Hamelin Finzi
Coreographies | Maria Bonzanigo
Scenes | Hugo Gargiulo
Costues | Giovanna Buzzi
Assisteant Director| Geneviève Dupéré
Co-Light designer | Alexis Bowles
Special Effects | Roberto Vitalini “Bashiba”
Scenes Assistant | Matteo Verlicchi
Costumes Assistant | Ambra Schumacher
Light Design Assistant | Marzio Picchetti
Special Effects Assistant | Sebastiano Barbieri

Carmen, María José Montiel/ Clémentine Margaine
Don José, Brian Jagde / Andeka Gorrotxategui
Micaëla, Eleonora Buratto/ Jessica Nuccio
Escamillo, Kostas Smoriginas / Ruben Amoretti
Frasquita, Sandra Pastrana
Mercédès, Giuseppina Bridelli / Annunziata Vestri
Le Dancaïre, Fabio Previati
Le Remendado, Carlo Bosi
Zuniga, Gianfranco Montresor
Moralès, Roberto Accurso

New Staging of Teatro di San Carlo

Orchestra, Chorus, Ballet Company and Children Chorus of Teatro di San Carlo

Creatives Coordination: Compagnia Finzi Pasca