Even if you don't know the story, you know the story: Sexy Gypsy seduces Boring Soldier. Sexy Gypsy falls for Dashing Bullfighter. Boring Soldier kills Sexy Gypsy, "in a jealous rage." Also, there are smugglers and fortune tellers.
Jennifer DeDominici, the star of Opera Theatre of the Rockies' new production of Georges Bizet's Carmen, which opens in celebration of the company's 10th anniversary, wants operaphobes to know that the show is "just as exciting as any of the blockbuster movies.
"They weren't written to be only for highbrow audiences," DeDominici says. "Operas were written to be enjoyed by everybody."
Everybody who's hit puberty, at least.
"It's sex, man!" David Sckolnik, the show's marketing consultant, says of this production. "It's going to shock a lot of people. Don't bring the kiddies."
Carmen, with familiar music like "Habanera" and "Torador Song," is among the most widely performed operas in the world. But when it first opened in 1875, Carmen was transgressive enough that even its own producers were scandalized. The cast was blackballed. Bizet died at 36, exactly three months after the first performance.
According to Sckolnik, the character of Carmen is "still threatening the shit out of everybody."
DeDominici likes that.
"[Carmen's] not afraid to use sex to get what she wants," the singer says. "Above all, she wants freedom to do as she pleases, to love whom she pleases. If she has to hurt people along the way, well, that's an unfortunate side effect."
Between "the orchestra, the voices, the acting, the costumes, the sets," and the "particularly fresh" ensemble, DeDominici hopes Carmen will be grand enough, and thrilling enough, for a mass audience on opening night.
In the meantime similar to the character she plays DeDominici won't be pussyfooting around.
"My voice doesn't respond poorly to carbonated beverages or to dairy," she says. "I'm a person who can eat a pizza and drink a diet soda before I go on stage, and it's not going to affect my singing."