Date: Jul 10, 2010
Title: Carmen....It's For Rock-N-Rollers Too!!!
Band: Carmen The Opera
Venue: Arena Di Verona
Place: Verona, Italy, IN
Author: Robin Roth
Photos: Robin Roth
Editor: Mark Lewis
Posted: Sep 10, 2010

                 Arena Di Verona

             presented the 88th Opera Festival 2010

          The unforgetable….. Carmen………… 


Story and some photos by: Robin Roth

Photos number 23 thru 28 courtesy of Fondazione Arena Di Verona, Foto Ennevi


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Let’s be real here, OPERA for rockers? Opera? Really? Why is Robin writing in Rock Over America about Opera? Opera has nothing to do with Rock and Roll?


Well, indeed it does! Surprise, my fellow rockers, for the best of the best rockers all began there musical training in classical music. I would start naming them but it would take pages upon pages to prove my point. So, just trust me on this one that most, if not all of the best singers and musicians started their training in one way or another with Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, famed operas, and other avenues of the classical world.

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Ok… stop everything, let me just make a small point… …


Paul Stanley, the lead singer from the notorious rock band KISS, performed Phantom of the Opera in Canada to sell out crowds. Need I say anything more!  Here is one clip, and more can be found when you click the link:


Yes, actually, I must say more. Freddie Mercury from Queen released the DVD “Barcelona Live”, performing pure opera and he gave me goose bumps. He also, very impressively performed with some of the greatest opera singers of our time….Hello! How does that rock your mind? I am done now… Here is Freddie:


Ok, no, I am not either. Pat Benatar released an amazing DVD, “We Live for Love”, performing opera as well. Ok enough said! For real this time….and example of her vocal styling from the remake of the movie “Metropolis” which exudes her ability to perform opera:


The spectacular Opera Festival 2010 in Verona’s dazzling Arena presented Carmen opening on July 10. The Arena Di Verona is host each summer to the world renowned Verona Opera season. It is without a doubt, the world's most remarkable opera house. La Scala, The Royal Opera at Covent Garden, and the Sydney Opera House may stake their claims of this prize, but Verona with its ancient unique setting, its astounding productions and performances of a consistently high standard, and phenomenal acoustics set it a part from all other opera houses. Verona's stunning and awe inspiring Arena Di Verona is universally recognized as the biggest opera hall in the world. It is set in the heart of Verona in a 19 thousand seat, open-air, first century Roman Amphitheater that has featured theater performances since the early 1700’s. Sitting in this ancient legendary arena, amidst this spectacular medieval city, wine covered hills and the pink glow of the sun set, I had to pinch myself back to the reality of how lucky I was to be part of this event… What a gift to have had this opportunity to experience the world of opera at its finest. It was one of the greatest music experiences of my life. Whether you are an opera fan or not is totally irrelevant. You will want this experience this one day for yourself.


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A fact to keep in mind is that Opera in Italy is fundamentally the heart and soul of this country. It is equivalent to wine in Tuscany, gondolas in Venice, pasta in Italy itself, and Michelangelo to his masterpiece of The David.


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The magic that is the Arena Di Verona is created from an energetic, thrilling, and celebrated recipe: A predominantly Italian love and flair for the dramatic opera performance; an extraordinarily educated and ‘opera serious’ audience which demands and receives electrifying performances from the world's greatest performers and musicians. However, what really makes this grand, majestic, and illustrious opera house THE most spectacularly fabulous in the world is its setting. With its dramatic ancient backdrop, acoustically perfect sound, its enormous 2000-year-old Roman amphitheater, all combined, provides for an impressive, rare, one-of-a-kind atmosphere making the musical experience so rare and exceptional.


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The enchanting ambiance on a warm summer Verona night, watching Carmen performed in the Arena Di Verona is like nowhere else imaginable. The serious unique nature of the event creates a magnet for the major names in opera as well as other performing artists. Legendary Italian film director, Franco Zefferelli, was no different. The arenas allure captivated him and had him eager to direct his production of Verdi's Il Trovatore, Aida, and Carmen. Back in the days of Ancient Rome, 30,000 people would squeeze into the Arena Di Verona, coming from all over Europe. Today, visitors come from all over the world to see the Verona Opera summer season and after being a witness to some of these spectacular operas, it is no wonder why. I find myself often dreaming of returning one day.

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The whole Carmen experience was exciting, enthralling, and unforgettable. I will never forget that astonishing evening, sitting under a beautiful night sky, filled with stars, a full moon, with warm gentle summer breezes, the lights, the stage, the acoustics, the brilliant musicians, actors, dancers, and an abundance of extraordinary talent. I would like to extend some kudos for the sophisticated audio support and balancing system which is truly state of the art and revolutionary.

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 On the 10th of July was the first performance of Carmen by Georges Bizet staged with costumes by Anna Anni. The magnificently brilliant, animated, and abundantly talented, handsome Julian Kovatchev was on the podium directing the orchestra and cast. I found myself watching poetry in motion. His passion for music is displayed in every carefully executed wave of his baton. Julian Kovatchev, the brilliant legendary conductor was breathtaking. I enjoyed watching his conducting excellence and performance almost as much as this spectacular opera.

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The very young Anita Rachvelishvili, with her tremendous voice, lit up the stage as she exquisitely portrayed Carmen. She truly made Carmen come to life before our eyes. Ms. Rachvelishvili was very believable and held you at the edge of your seat. (Carmen was alternated with Geraldine Chauvet, Kirstin Chavez, and Kate Aldrich)

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Marcelo Álvarez with his extraordinary voice brought to life Don José. He had total command of his character and was not only convincing but you almost rooted for him throughout. Marcelo is abundantly talented and gifted.


Mark S. Doss (Alternate Jorge de León) played Escamillo with his dazzling glorious voice. He was skilful and outstanding.

Fiorenza Cedolins performed Micaela with stunning elegance and amazing vocal talents. She was mesmerizing.                                                            

Carla Di Censo played Frasquita with style and impressive unforgettable talents. Cristina Melis portrayed Mercedes. She commanded attention by her stage presence and quality vocals.

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Also appearing in this ultra spectacular cast was:

Fabio Previati as Dancairo                                        

Luca Casalin as Remendado

Manrico Signorini as Zuniga                                     

Giorgio Ferretti as Morales                                       

Lucia Real as Primi ballerini ospiti                                        

(Alternates) José Porcel, Rosa Zaragoza


I extend a big round of applause to El Camborio ripresa da Lucia Real for his amazing choreography excellence.                                                                


Repeat performances were the 15-20-23-29 of July & 12-18-21-24-27 of August.


I, myself, speak Italian, but the people I was with and much of the audience from around the world didn't speak a word. That is the beauty of Opera. The stories are so universal and dramatic that one can understand and follow the tale just by watching. In the case of Carmen you will recognize much of the music as you have heard many of these works in everyday life such as, “Toreador Song” and “Habanera”. The number of artists that made up this production was enormous. There were over 200 musicians, and a cast of 500 performers that included singers, dancers, extras, children, and last but not least, many types of animals including horses.

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The story of Carmen:


“That’s love”, comes from an opera called Carmen. An opera is a play set to music where the words are sung rather than spoken. Carmen is among the most famous operas in the world. It was written by a French composer named Georges Bizet. It is based on a story by the French writer Prosper Merimée.

Carmen is a Spanish gypsy girl who is working in a factory when the story opens. She sees the soldier Don José one lunch time and decides to make him fall in love with her even though he already has a girlfriend. At first he isn't interested, but Carmen has a way with him and soon she captures his heart. Don José deserts the army and leaves his girlfriend Micaela to be with Carmen, but Carmen soon gets tired of him and instead takes up with Escamillo, the hunky bullfighter who she thinks is much more glamorous than Don José. José is desperately unhappy at this and tries very hard to persuade Carmen to come back to him. She refuses and instead goes to watch Escamillo in a major bullfight. José waits for Carmen outside the ring and gives her one last chance to come back to him, but she only laughs at him. Then José says that if he can't have her, no one will. He takes out a knife and stabs her. Carmen dies as José is arrested and led away, while inside the ring the crowd cheers as Escamillo wins the bullfight. “That’s love” is sung by Carmen when she first appears on stage. The words tell the audience about her character, that she is fickle and faithless and just out for what she can get.


Carmen takes place in four acts. In between each act, in keeping with the Italian opera traditions, there was the gong lady coming out on stage several time each intermission pounding the gong the precise about of hits to let the audience know when the opera will continue.  This was a lot of fun to witness.




The whole Arena Di Verona experience was impressive, thrilling, and inspirational. From sitting out doors among thousands of opera lovers, the sounds, the smells, the setting, and the enormous amount of talent was overwhelming at times.  If you ever are fortunate enough to visit the romantic city of Verona, visiting the Arena Di Verona should be on the very top of your list. If you are not an opera fan, no worries, I assure you that you will be by the time you leave. Without a doubt, any one of these outstanding productions will change your mind forever. To attend the Opera is the quintessential Italian experience. It will become a spectacular life long memory and unforgettable experience. Bravo, Bravi, and Brava!!!!!!

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Other magnificent operas in the 88th Opera Festival 2010 included:

7 performances of Turandot by Giacomo Puccini

17 performances of Aida by Giuseppe Verdi

8 performances of Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini

10 performances of Carmen by Georges Bizet

6 performances of Il Trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi


About the Director


(Florence, February 12, 1923- )



Franco Zeffirelli  (director of the 1968 adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Jane Eyre (1996), Tea with Mussolini, Hamlet (1990), Jesus of Nazareth (1977)) is notably one of the greatest directors of our time. Here in his own words he recalls the first time he saw the monument Arena in April 1945: “I saw this wondrous thing that reminded me of my family, a family of classical music lovers, with a cousin of my mother’s who was a singer, where people talked about music and listened to excerpts of operas. And the word “opera” meant one of two things, either Verona or Teatro La Scala. Then, at the Arena, during the fifties I saw a production of Aida with Maria Callas and directed by Pabst [Georg Wilhelm] who had “invented” a large basin, a pool, in the foreground of the stage with the intention of representing the Nile, thus distancing the audience a bit from the actors. I was not particularly fond of Aida, preferring personae like Norma or Medea, but I noticed that Aida puts vocal timbres to a diabolic test: the magic was, and still is, the venue, this “funnel” by which you hear the voice echoing in countless reverberations. There is no one place where the effect is the same as another. You are experiencing a collective and exhilarating event that surpasses the traditional canons of an opera house. If the shows I created for this unique theatre in the world were successful, then they were repeated with great care. The public is much more demanding and comes from all over Europe on a pilgrimage to bring home memorable experiences”.


So my fellow rockers, I have given you music for thought! Step out of your comfortable rock box and try rockin’ out on opera.  Many rocket legends have done just that! 




I would like to extend a personal than thank you to Francesca Zardini director of communication for all her help assisting and making this story possible!


Don't miss next season’s 89th opera festival. For Further information on the Opera Festival log on to web site: or call centre 045 8005151.

Ufficio Stampa Fondazione Arena di Verona

Via Roma 7/D - 37121 Verona

Tel. 045 8051861 - 8051891 - 8051905

Fax 045 8031443

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