Carmen is an opera in four acts by French composer Georges Bizet. Set in the exotic city of Seville, Spain, in around 1830, the opera tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery gypsy Carmen.

The opera debuted at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on March 3, 1875, but it was badly received at the time due to its breaking of convention, which scandalised audiences. But it went on to become one of the most-popular and frequently performed operas in the classical canon, with "Habanera" from act 1 one of the best operatic arias.

Carmen will be performed at Ciputra Artpreneur Jakarta in two presentations on April 16 at 7:30pm and on April 17 at 4pm. Renita Adrian from the Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation shares the details.

Indonesia Tatler [IT]: Why are you so interested in supporting Carmen? 

Renita Adrian [RA]: As declared in our vision statement, Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation supports the creative spirit of our society, creates relationships with the art community, and collaborates in efforts to increase the appreciation of Indonesian cultural productions. As for Resonanz Music Studio, we always support their activities because of their specialties and uniqueness as an operatic company.

IT: There are a number of good operas. Why has Resonanz Music Studio explicitly settled on Carmen?

RA: It's a long-held dream of musical director-cum-conductor Avip Priatna to stage a piece like Carmen to the same standards as performances in Europe and America. He considers the opera to be outstandingly popular and unique, and for him to present Carmen is really challenging.  

IT: To stage such a popular masterpiece as Carmen is a very difficult task—it's arguable that the country's artists may not possess the qualities for such an undertaking. So what makes Avip Priatna so sure that he will succeed?

RA: Avip has done extensive research into this project.  To get a real grip on this great work, he attended various other performances across Europe. He is also supported by a trustworthy and reliable team. For instance, mezzo soprano Heny Janawati, who plays the role of the Gypsy girl Carmen, is an opera master graduate from the University of British Columbia and has played the same character in a performance in the Czech Republic in 2010.

IT: We see that Happy Salma will be the narrator: is she qualified? 

RA: Of course! The company trusts her completely with the position due to her professional qualities as a narrator, her consistency in the performing arts, and her characteristic voice, which is perfectly suited to the job. 

Tags: Music, Resonanz Music Studio, Carmen, Renita Adrian, Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation, Georges Bizet, Ciputra Artpreneur Jakarta, Opera