New company, new take on ‘Carmen’

When “remake” is a good thing…

Director Carson Gilmore has proven his creative instincts with an array of other companies locally, and has long been looking to start his own troupe. With a well-received and ambitious black box production of Bellini’s difficult and gender-bending I Capuleti e i Montecchi a couple of years ago, the then-named Hawkmore Lyric Opera has been reinvented into Vox Visceralis. This new production under the new name is a fully-staged, all-new production of Georges Bizet’s classic tragedy.

Gilmore has set the work in 1933, smack in the middle of the Great Depression. The gypsies become a gang of bank robbers, ala Bonnie and Clyde, heightening the sense of their tightly-knit group, as well as the outside forces that threaten them. Some of the relationships between the characters have been updated, as well, e.g. throwing Mercedes (played by Ariana Stultz) into the function of Carmen’s jailhouse lover and guardian angel. Gilmore states that his overarching goal is “to dig out and bring to new life the visceral, relatable and often frightening truths that opera explores again and again.”

Sung in French with the recitatives and accompanied by chamber ensemble, the show features mezzo Rachel Labovitch in the title role, with Jonathan Matthews as Don José and a host of beloved local performers. This a particularly prime opportunity to show off the operatic talent that dwells in Southern California, and the new group is well-positioned not only to make a name for themselves, but to create valuable and innovative opportunities for their performers.

Catch Carmen at one of two performances this week: Wednesday, November 20 and Thursday, November 20, both at 7:30pm. It all takes place at the Ebell Club in Highland Park.

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CAST

  • Carmen: Rachel Labovitch
  • Don José: Jonathan Matthews
  • Micaëla: Megan Lindsey McDonald
  • Escamillo: Luvi Avendano
  • Frasquita: Tiffany Ho
  • Mercédès: Ariana Stultz
  • Dancaïro: Michael O’Halloren
  • Remendado: Gabriel Paredes
  • Zuniga: Phil Meyer
  • Moralès: William Vallandigham

Chorus

Rachel Stoughton, Dina Murphy, Amanda Hoffman, Alexandra Bass, Emily Kerrigan, Rae Danielson Panas, Brandon Mautz, Elliott Moore, Jarrod Rogers, Anthony Moresi

ARTISTIC STAFF

  • Stage Director: Carson Gilmore
  • Music Director: David Conley
  • Stage Manager: William Lyons

Please note that this “echo” of the feature originally featured in this week’s Next 7 newsletter has been updated slightly, to include additional cast information and minor corrections in the original text. Please note that the location for this production is indeed the Ebell Club of Highland Park, and NOT the similarly-named venue in LA’s Mid-Wilshire district. The newsletter version shows an incorrect venue name, but the event pages for this event are correct. Consider taking the Gold Line to the Highland Park venue! Apologies for the confusion.

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