“I needed space, I needed freedom,” Akhmetshina said. “I’m half Tatar, half Bashkir. If you look at the history of these small nations, we were constantly traveling around mountains, the forest, living in small communities that constantly moved around.” Her affinity with Carmen runs deeper than music, she said. “It’s kind of in my blood.”
Ethnic difference is not a factor in Cracknell’s production, which instead highlights gender and class tensions. For the choreographer Ann Yee, this was an opportunity to develop dances free of castanets and flamenco clichés. She described Carmen’s allure as connecting more to psychological yearnings than to Orientalist fantasy. “We’ve hooked into this idea of liberation and wildness, about what is on the other side of the journey, the border,” she said in an interview. “It’s this wild appetite that exists in Carmen and which radiates through the people that she is a part of.”
Yee said that removing “Carmen” from the Andalusian context also helped to sharpen its feminist message. “If you are looking too hard to situate it in one place, it becomes more difficult to realize that this could happen anywhere.” By the time Carmen meets her death, Yee suggested, “we can all hold ourselves accountable.”
“Women are still killed by their partners on an enormous scale in most places in the world,” Cracknell said. “And we are obsessed with that narrative.” In her production, she emphasizes the number of witnesses who watch José’s jealousy turn progressively more menacing without intervening.
In the Act III confrontation that results in Carmen being pushed to the floor, not one of her fellow smugglers steps in to help. Instead it is Micaëla, the character Bizet created as Carmen’s opposite and rival, sung here by the soprano Angel Blue, who offers a helping hand. Carmen accepts it, reluctantly, but lets go of it so quickly that she comes to her feet in an embarrassed stumble.
Cracknell said it was Blue who had come up with the idea in rehearsal. “Angel just instinctively walked over and helped her up,” she said. “It became this incredible, simple moment of solidarity between these two stepping outside of the trope of two women being pitted against each other and fighting at all costs to win the man. And in that moment, Micaëla’s choice was to support another woman and to see her as a victim in her own right.”
Content Source: www.nytimes.com