SUU Opera begins rehearsals for ‘Carmen’

Southern Utah University’s opera group began rehearsals on Sept. 11 for their production of Georges Bizet’s “Carmen,” which is scheduled to perform March 27-30 in the Heritage Center. 

“Carmen” tells the story of a young soldier, Don José, who is seduced by a traveling woman named Carmen into abandoning his military duties and his lover. The opera was first performed in 1875 in Paris and revolutionized French opera, as it depicted several controversial topics. 

SUU’s production will follow the style of the “opéra comique” with spoken dialogue and sung arias. The show is a joint endeavor with several departments across campus. 

“It’s considered to be a grand opera because it involves dance as well as singing and costuming and a large orchestra,” said professor Carol Ann Modesitt, director and producer of “Carmen.” “It’s one of the most popular operas that there is.”

Normally, SUU’s opera company produces one show each semester, but “Carmen” is the only production scheduled for this year due to the scope of the show. The audition process for “Carmen” was also more extensive than for productions in the past. 

“Normally, we just do a singing audition, and that’s it. But this year, we did a singing audition and the dialogue, and then we did a dance call,” said Lehi Moran, the vocal performance student who plays Don José. 

The production is double cast, with SUU music faculty members playing the roles on the nights that students are not performing. 

“I’ve double cast it because we have to do it four nights in a row. We have new faculty, and I thought they would be really great on the nights that those students aren’t doing the main roles,” Modesitt said. 

The opera is separated into four acts with several familiar arias spread throughout the show. 

“I’m most looking forward to the fourth act,” said Moran. “It’s the biggest, most dramatic moment. It’s the climax of the show. That’s always my favorite part, every single time I watch it. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat.” 

For more information regarding SUU opera and “Carmen,” visit the music department website

Story by: Gracie Butterfield
Photos courtesy of SUU Music Department