The first show presented majestically by the Granada Flamenco Ballet is ‘Carmen’. This is an adaptation of a classic and world-famous opera, which many people all around the world already know and love. ‘Carmen’ was originally composed by Frenchman Georges Bizet and was first performed in the year 1875, where its transgression of societal conventions shocked and scandalized early audiences. Granada Flamenco Ballet’s interpretation of ‘Carmen’ remains true to the original in a variety of aspects, although it introduces a fresh new approach which is enthralling and emotional for the audiences.
Although written by a French composer, it is fascinating that the majority of ‘Carmen’ focuses around a very distinctly Hispanic storyline, resonating with audiences throughout the Spanish-speaking world. The narrative of the opera is set in the south of Spain, and it tells the story of a soldier who falls in love with a woman from a gypsy background. Granada Flamenco Ballet’s interpretation of this thrilling opera, in the form of dance, is groundbreaking and spellbinding to watch as an audience-member. The performances are not only given through the medium of dance but combine music, acting and stage craft skillfully.
Throughout ‘Carmen’ runs the theme of immorality, Both the male protagonist, the hot-headed Don José, and the female eponymous protagonist, Carmen, display immoral traits at several points throughout the narrative. For example, Carmen is a very provocative woman who at the start of the story, seems to be totally in love with José, but later seems to lose interest in him very quickly. This theme of immorality is expertly conveyed through the flamenco ballet, often with more dramatic and dynamic movements which invite great tension. This intense atmosphere is presented not just through the dance but also the scenic design of this production, such as the red lighting and the striking music. This combination of all the artistic effects together create an all-encompassing and even somewhat overwhelming effect for the audience, thus leading them to interact with the ballet in a new and refreshing manner.
Another theme of great importance in this Flamenco Ballet ‘Carmen’ is that of jealousy, which is again illustrated expertly through the medium of dance. We see this in Don José as he begins to realise that Carmen is now in love with Escamillo. This is portrayed through the great intensity in the feud between the two male characters, felt in the harshness of their steps, at great contrast with the subtler and more intimate movements earlier in the performance. This variation in types of dance steps makes the performance extremely dynamic and gripping for the audience, whether they are familiar with the narrative of this original opera or not.
Moreover, on the topic of contrasts, the juxtaposition between the military characters and the gypsy characters cannot be ignored because it informs both the content and form of the production in a significant way. This Flamenco Ballet of ‘Carmen’ expertly showcases the contrasts between the two types of characters and ambiances through visibly different dance and scenic effects, and this disparity creates an uneasiness which leads to a greater source of tension in the production. The tension created through the dance leads to a very interesting experience for the audiences, as it makes the movements seem extremely unique, because it is simultaneously passionate and frightening in its strong intensity.
All in all, this Flamenco Ballet is powered by a strong narrative. However, its outstanding choreography and beautiful staging elevate it to become one of the most dynamic stage productions seen in years. Granada Flamenco Ballet are one of the most innovative and exciting artistic companies in the world at the moment and they are a true joy to watch.