Carmen Abroad investigates how the 'myth' of the Carmen story became a worldwide phenomenon through Bizet's famed opera.
How was the story interpreted all over the world: in Northern countries, and in Spain itself? In countries which hardly had orchestras of the appropriate size? How was it translated, adapted and staged? What emphases were put on the opera’s major themes: of racial difference, sexual mores, gender issues? And how did it go down differently around the world with its undertones of violence, its exploration of sexual relations, and its murder on stage? The simple answer is rather well, but there are so many nuances in the history of its production around the world to make its performances and reception an issue of interest.
The project grew out of a feasibility study for a new edition of Bizet's opera commissioned by Edition Peters, a major music publisher centred in Leipzig, London and New York, which was funded by the Peter Moores Foundation. The outcome was a performing edition based on how the opera was first performed, both musically and dramatically. Extracts from the original staging manuals are a unique aspect of this edition. It was decided to coin a new term for its approach: a Performance Urtext, ie an edition which captured not only how the opera was first played, but—to some extent—how it was staged.
The new edition is based on a detailed study of the score used for the first run of performances at the Paris Opéra-Comique. The score has been used for runs of performances at the Châtelet and the Opéra-Comique in Paris (Minkowski and Gardiner respectively) and, among many other productions, has been used for a commercial DVD by Gardiner and the Orchestre Romantique et Révolutionnaire capturing the Opéra-Comique run.
The current project builds upon this edition, and a two-day international conference of invited contributors allied to the 2017 Cardiff Singer of the World competition, which have evolved into a continually updated website.
The RMA/Cambridge University Press awarded Richard Langham Smith (RCM) and Clair Rowden (Cardiff University) the Outstanding Edited Collection Book Prize for 2021 for their edited collection, Carmen Abroad: Bizet’s Opera on the Global Stage (Cambridge University Press, 2020).