Vivian Beaumont Theatre, (11/17/1983 - 4/28/1984)

First Preview: Oct 24, 1983
Opening Date: Nov 17, 1983
Closing Date: Apr 28, 1984
Total Previews: 29
Total Performances: 187

Category: Musical, Opera, Original, Broadway

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Lincoln Center Theater

Produced by Alexander H. Cohen and Hildy Parks; Produced in association with James L. Nederlander and Arthur Rubin; Co - Producer: Roy A. Somlyo

Originally presented at The Bouffes du Nord by the Théâtre National de L'Opéra de Paris; Orignally presented at the Centre International des Créations Théâtrales (Micheline Rozan, Producer)

Music by Georges Bizet; Lyrics by Georges Bizet; Book adapted by Marius Constant, Jean-Claude Carrière and Peter Brook; Musical Director: Marius Constant

Directed by Peter Brook; Associate Director: Maurice Benichou

Costume Design by Chloé Obolensky; Scenic Design by Jean-Guy Lecat

Company Manager: Jodi Moss

Technical Director: Jean-Guy Lecat; Production Stage Manager: Robert L. Borod; Technical Coordinator: Arthur Siccardi; Stage Manager: Christopher A. Cohen

Conducted by Randall Behr and Roger Cantrell

Artistic Advisor: Bernard Lefort; Press Representative: Merle Debuskey Associates and David Roggensack; Production Associate: Seymour Herscher; Advertising: Ash / LeDonne; Casting Consultant: Columbia Artists Management; Special Casting Services: Simon & Kumin Casting, Inc.

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Opening Night Cast

Anne-Christine BielMicaëla
Evan BortnickDon José
Cynthia ClareyCarmen
Laurence DaleDon José
Hélène DelavaultCarmen
Jean-Paul DenizonLt. Zuniga
Véronique DietschyMicaëla
Carl Johan FalkmanEscamillo
Jake GardnerEscamillo
Emily GoldenCarmen
Howard HenselDon José
James HobackDon José
Agnès HostMicaëla
Andreas KatsulasLt. Zuniga
Old Woman
Lillas Pastia
Ronald MaddenEscamillo
Alain MaratratLillas Pastia
Beverly MorganMicaëla
Peter PuzzoDon José
John RathEscamillo
Eva SaurovaCarmen
Patricia SchumanCarmen
Tapa SudanaGarcia

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

winner 1984 Special Award [recipient] 

Produced by Alexander H. Cohen

winner 1984 Special Award [recipient] 

Peter Brook

Drama Desk Award

winner 1984 Unique Theatrical Experience [winner] 

Produced by Alexander H. Cohen, Hildy Parks and Roy A. Somlyo; Produced in association with James L. Nederlander and Arthur Rubin


New York Daily News: "'Carmen': intoxicating"

Lincoln Center's controversial and long-neglected Beaumont Theater is brilliantly fulfilled by Peter Brook's fascinating production, "La Tragedie de Carmen," which opened there last evening. An 80-minute distillation, in the form of a chamber opera, of the customary three-hour grand-opera version of Bizet's masterpiece, it is utterly intoxicating.

Brook, who put it together in his Paris workshop and then presented it in that city last year for a sizable run followed by a lengthy European tour, has restored some of the harsher and more lurid elements of the Prosper Merimee novel that Bizet's proficient librettists, Meilhac and Halevy, excised in order to soften the work (but not sufficiently, as it happened) for the conventional tastes of the Opera Comique audience. For "Carmen," with spoken dialogue between musical numbers, was the late 19th-century equivalent of what we call a musical. In fact, it wasn't until 1959 that it made the Paris Opera.

While "Carmen" has long been one of the most popular of all operas ("Aida," "La Boheme" and "Carmen" constitute the Met's ABC of hit operas), and has often been called "the perfect opera," there is no denying that it tends to drag at times, especially in the third of its four acts, in the innumerable routine performances it endures in the hope that its sock numbers will put it across.

The original production and on many occasions since then, particularly in Paris, the recitative that Guirard added after Bizet's early death in order to create a musical whole (for the original production, etc.), has been discarded in favor of added dramatic incisiveness, but never before could the work have been unfolded in sparer terms than this.

Four singers, three speaking parts and a huge thrust stage covered, discounting a few props now and then, solely with "dirt" - brown with reddish areas tapering off into gray rubble, the whole giving a sunbaked blood-and-sand effect. Dead center - what appears to be a bundle of rags until a hand slips out to present a playing card to the passing Don Jose, then to reach for the hand of the newly arrived Micaela to read its fortune, and then to sweep aside the covering to reveal the wanton, amoral, cruel, impetuously loving, mercurial - well, Carmen.

From that moment on, events proceed swiftly, and although along the general - indeed, inevitable - lines of the grand opera, not with the same details. The spectacle, panoply, chorus numbers - even quintets and trios - are dispensed with as, through the irresistible set pieces for solo and duet, we move rapidly, but songfully, through the four acts with minor prop changes - a throw rug, a few rude wood chairs, a few burlap sacks bunched together to make a pallet for Jose and Carmen.

And instead of the one murder - Carmen's at the finish, with a sudden knife thrust as the music of the "habanera" is softly intoned again (in Jose's mind, of course) to fade out with the lights - there are now four. First, Jose's superior officer, Lt. Zuniga, is throttled by the lovesick country boy when he discovers Zuniga has been having it on with Carmen (Lillas Pastia, by the way, functions as both an innkeeper, briefly addressing us in English for an amusing few moments, and Carmen's pimp). Then, when Carmen's husband, Garcia (a figure omitted in the Meilhac-Halevy libretto), turns up, Jose polishes him off with the leg knife he'll eventually plunge into Carmen's back. And Escamillo, rather than triumphing in the ring to the cheers of the crowd, is - well, not murdered, but gored to death by the bull. The point being that even his death (his splendidly caparisoned body is carried aloft across stage) can't make Carmen yield to Jose's supplications.

Brook's staging, ranging from the highly dramatic to the highly farcical (there are even two doors, one either side, and with nothing behind them, for slambang entrances and exits), is so explicit, whether tender or lubricious, that, thank heavens, no translation is required for music that sings properly only in French. Even the dialogue passages, most of them underscored by the 14-piece, partially hidden (depending on where one is seated), orchestra, are so staged and acted as to be perfectly clear to the uninitiated.

And what of the casts, and the Carmens in particular? I saw three during the week of press previews, and the emphasis, of course, especially in what would constitute the first act, was on Carmen's unfettered eroticism, the natural animal, seductive, even salacious, in every glance, gesture and movement.

Though the Czech mezzo Eva Saurova was by far the handsomest of the three seen, and even the most assured vocally, her neatly coiffed auburn hair and teasing, but not especially arousing, behavior, made her less effective, in some ways, than the sluttish-looking and even slatternly Cynthia Clarey and Emily Golden whom I caught first, in that order. The Don Joses were only adequate in a chamber-music sense, which I suppose was sufficient under the circumstances, though I rather regretted the repeated use of falsetto by one of them, however smoothly it was used. Similarly, there wasn't a first-rate Escamillo in the bunch. But Veronique Dietschy was easily the outstanding Micaela, her "Jedis" begun at the top of an aisle and ending with some harmonized observations by Carmen. Alain Maratrat was the wonderfully entertaining Lillas Pastia at all three performances, and Jean-Paul Denizon, another accomplished actor, made an excellent Zuniga at two of them. Again, though, I hate to criticize the vocalism, for all the singing was marvelously clear coming from that large stage so near to us and with the finely modulated orchestra conducted by Marius Constant.

"La Tragedie de Carmen" is not intended as a substitute for "Carmen," just as a new look at a great work. It is surely a transcendent "musical," and such a brilliant piece of theater that if I were to see it every week, which I wish I could, I'd consider this otherwise largely lackluster Broadway musical season one of the best ever.

New York Daily News

Replacement/Transfer Info

The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.

Vivian Beaumont Theatre

(11/17/1983 - 4/28/1984)
Stage Manager: Christopher Gregory.

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