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Onstage: Carmen

By Julie Mullins · July 21st, 2009 · CityBeat Recommends

Bizet’s sultry Carmen ranks among the most popular, well-known operas for good reasons. Hummable, memorable melodies? Yes. Exotic historical setting? Check. Temperamental, brazen temptress? Indeed. Few operatic characters are as dangerously sensual as the brassy, sassy Spanish gypsy Carmen. But mastering the tempestuous role is anything but devil-may-care.

Romanian mezzo-soprano Ruxandra Donose says playing Carmen presents challenges beyond technical singing, nuanced acting and flamenco dancing with castanets — for which she’s trained with expert instructors.

Because it is so familiar, people have expectations. “Even the idea of the erotic is different for everyone,” she explains. “You have to find your own way to access the role. With Carmen, you’re much more exposed because everybody believes they know it.”

Topping off the Opera’s season finale at Music Hall, selected Cincinnati Ballet dancers will add some extra spice to Carmen. Donose adds, “You have to have everything for it, and a couple of things on top of it!” On opening night before curtain, the winner of the Opera’s first ever Opera Idol competition will be announced. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; 3 p.m. Sunday. $26-$152.

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