OPERA WITH JEWISH ROOTS OPENS NOV. 10
With 35 years and over 75 operas in his repertoire, Jewish community member Maestro Arthur Fagen, music director of the Atlanta Opera, is no stranger to “Carmen.”
The iconic opera about a captivating gypsy that simultaneously seduces two men with dire consequences opens the Atlanta Opera’s 2012-2013 season next month. “This is going to be an interesting season,” said Fagen. “It’s a year of transition; the former director is off the company, and we are waiting on a number of interviews to see who will be the next general director.”
With the move to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and new leadership, Fagen thinks the Atlanta Opera is on track to achieving great things. “I truly think that the Atlanta Opera is poised to become a major American company,” he said. “I think that [our schedule is filled with] operas that have a great accessibility to the public. I think it’s a very attractive season for the public.”
This production of “Carmen,” directed by Jeffrey Marc Buchman, begins Nov. 10.
About Maestro Fagen
Beginning with trips to New York City with his grandparents as a young boy and Metropolitan Opera radio matinees, Fagen followed his love for the arts to such renowned companies as the Tokyo Philharmonic, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the New York City Opera.
This marks Fagen’s second year with the company and his first without former general director Dennis Hanthorn, who recently resigned. Throughout his international career, Fagen’s relationship with Hanthorn led to invitations to guest conduct in both Milwaukee and Atlanta. “I felt an immediate affinity with the company,” said Fagen of his visits to the Atlanta Opera.
The opera’s upcoming performance of Georges Bizet’s classic “Carmen” proves especially personal for Fagen, considering the work’s ties to Judaism. A prominent Parisian Jewish family, the Halévys, had a large hand in the opera’s creation: Bizet co-wrote the libretto with Ludovic Halévy, studied under Jacques-Formental Halévy and later married Formental’s daughter Geneviève. Fagen also cites a “Jewish femme fatale” from history as a possible influence for the character of Carmen. She was reportedly a Marrano, one of many Jewish people forced to convert during the Spanish Inquisition, who met her end at the hands of a jealous suitor.
By Elizabeth Friedly / Assistant Editor
Editor’s note: The Atlanta Opera 2012-2013 season will also include performances of “La Traviata” and “The Italian Girls in Algiers.” Visit atlantaopera.org for ticketing information.