Award winner returns

Bizet's Carmen is heading to the Grand Theatre

Bizet's Carmen is heading to the Grand Theatre

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AWARD winning opera producer Ellen Kent is heading back to Blackpool – bringing the heat of Spain and the passion of Italy with new productions of Carmen and Tosca.

Reviving her role as promoter after a four-year break, Ellen is taking her shows on the road again early next year and she has chosen the fiery wilfulness of Carmen and Tosca’s manipulative melodrama to mark the return of her Opera and Ballet International company.

After two tours of Madama Butterfly and La Traviata under another promoter, director/producer Ellen is back to her old tricks which include a magnificent Andalucian stallion, rescue donkeys and choir boys.

The shows will be at Grand Theatre in Blackpool on March 10 (Tosca) and March 11 (Carmen) next year.

It’s a trip down memory lane for Ellen, who grew up in the beautiful surroundings of Andalucia in Spain.

She said: “I’m starting from scratch with Carmen. There’ll be brand new sets influenced by the wonderful paintings of Goya and reflecting the architecture of Seville with its balconies, orange trees, fountains and flowers, its hot, dusty, Moorish architecture with that amazing coloured stone.

“The costumes will also reflect Goya’s paintings of the Spanish people of that era. And of course, it’s all set against the backdrop of the bullring. I can picture it now. It’ll look magnificent.”

Bizet’s dramatic and sensuous opera Carmen tells the story of the downfall of soldier Don Jose, who is seduced by the fiery, beautiful and passionate gypsy Carmen. Abandoning both his childhood sweetheart and his military career, Jose pursues Carmen but loses her to the glamorous bullfighter Escamillo. In true tragic operatic fashion, Jose can’t bear to be without Carmen and stabs her in a jealous rage.

Puccini’s Tosca is no less violent, with torture, murder and suicide alongside some of opera’s best-known music. Set in Rome and based on a play by Victorien Sardou, it was once described as a “shabby little shocker.”

Opera diva Floria Tosca fears for the fidelity of her lover Mario, only to discover that it is the Baron Scarpia’s lust for her that endangers that love. A complex agreement of bargains and bluffs follow, to the detriment of all, with a truly tragic ending.

The celebrated National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus of Chisinau perform, alongside international soloists mezzo soprano Nadia Stoianova as Carmen and soprano Elena Dee, reprising her first ever leading operatic role as Tosca.

Ellen added: “These are powerful epic operas with heartbreaking stories of love and loss that many people will identify with.

“The costumes are fabulous and the sets will transport you to Europe. I just can’t wait for rehearsals to begin.”

For more information on the 74-date tour of the UK and Ireland, go to www.ellenkent.com or on Twitter @OperaBalletIntl.

Tickets for Blackpool are on sale now from the box office on (01253) 290190 or go online at www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk.

Carmen is sung in French with English surtitles. Tosca is sung in Italian with English surtitles.