Preview the Opera

Richard Eyre, the renowned British director of theater and film, explores the passionate drama of Bizet’s Carmen and the power of her desires in his new production at the Metropolitan Opera, which premieres on THIRTEEN’S Great Performances at the Met series. “Her sexuality is a life force, it’s a defining force,” he explains. “Carmen is about sex, violence, and racism—and its corollary: freedom.” As for her portrayal of the free spirited gypsy, Elīna Garanča says, “You don’t get to develop productions of Carmen from scratch too often. Carmen is defined by her unwillingness to settle. She is constantly searching and never satisfied. It may be sex or, more broadly, approval by men. It could also just be a zest for life, and in that she is uncompromising.” Under the baton of acclaimed young Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Garanča is joined by Roberto Alagna as the obsessed soldier Don José, Barbara Frittoli as his devoted girlfriend Micaëla, and Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the toreador Escamillo. Hosted by celebrated American soprano Renée Fleming, Carmen airs on Great Performances at the Met in primetime on THIRTEEN Thursday, May 13 at 9 p.m. and on PBS stations around the country on Sunday, May 16 at noon (check local listings).

Watch a preview of the opera:

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With more than 30 years of experience, Eyre is one of the world’s most respected directors of stage and screen. From 1988-1997, he served as artistic director of Britain’s Royal National Theatre. While at the National, Eyre produced more than 100 productions and directed 27 plays, including Guys and Dolls (Olivier, Evening Standard, and Critics Circle Awards for Best Director); Richard III with Ian McKellen, Tom Stoppard’s The Invention Of Love (Evening Standard Award); King Lear with Ian Holm (winner of Evening Standard, Olivier and Critics Circle Awards) which he also directed for BBC TV and WGBH (Peabody Award); Amy’s View with Judi Dench, and Absence of War, which he also directed for BBC TV. Eyre’s film credits include the Oscar-winning Iris, featuring Judi Dench and Kate Winslett, as well as The Ploughman’s Lunch, Stage Beauty, Notes on a Scandal, and most recently The Other Man. On Broadway, he has directed Vincent in Brixton, The Crucible, and the long-running Mary Poppins. He was knighted in 1997. Carmen is Eyre’s third opera production, having previously directed La Traviata for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and Le Nozze di Figaro at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Great Performances at the Met: Carmen is the seventh of 10 productions airing during the 2009-2010 season. The performance is sung in French with English surtitles. Eyre makes his Met Opera debut directing the new production, as does set and costume designer Rob Howell. Peter Mumford designs the lighting; Christopher Wheeldon creates the choreography for the new staging.

Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers and PBS. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home-builder®.

For the Met, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.