Carmen Condensed shortens opera

Tricia Peterson

The Washburn University opera theatre presented Carmen Condensed Friday April, 8, and Saturday April, 9.

Carmen is a French Opera comique written by Georges Bizet from the late 1800s. It is a story of a seductive gypsy woman who falls in-and-out of love with the men in her life and the drama that ensues.

Because the original opera is almost four hours long, Ivalah Allen, stage director, vocal director and editor, decided to cut it down. She took the second, third and fourth acts and condensed them into one final act—by taking out a few songs and adding some dialogue, she was able to create a smooth flow.

Traditionally, French opera also includes some ballet, but that was taken out as well. There is some dancing in the show, including a performance by the dancer, Josie Price, sophomore voice performance major who performed both Friday and Saturday.

“This was very difficult, and as an undergraduate program we don’t have the older voices that can sustain the length of the show,” said Allen. “We cut it down to something our students could handle here at Washburn, and that they would be able to sing well.”

The leads in the cast were different both nights, giving more students a chance at performing the lead roles.  On their off night, they sang in the chorus.

“We had enough singers who were capable for the parts,” explained Allen.  “It gives the students more of an opportunity.”

The budget was low for this production and the students were responsible for creating their own wardrobes as well as the set. The chorus was made up of gypsy girls who wore long, flowing skirts of various bright colors. The soldiers wore borrowed band uniforms which were easily disguised as army uniforms. Each Carmen chose to accent their outfit with bright red, and a red rose in their hair. The set was simple and consisted of the same platforms moved around in various arrangements each scene.

“We want to get more funding for next year,” said Lauren Buser, senior vocal music performance major, and Friday night’s Carmen. “It really [would be] a great thing for the music production. Last spring we had more money and we were able to build a set and we had a lot of costumes professionally made for us. If we had that kind of money every semester it would benefit the department a lot.”

Both Friday and Saturday had a good audience turn-out, consisting of both students and non-students.  Saturday night the cast asked Allen, Christopher Kelts, orchestral conductor, and Pat Gibson, accompanist to the stage for a round of applause and to present them with bouquets of flowers. This was Allen’s ninth and final production in her fourteen years of working at Washburn.

“The ability to be all together to make music on the stage,” said Rick Huffman, senior vocal major and Saturday night’s Don Jose, when explaining what he thought was the best part of the performance. “Just being able to make music and bringing all these people together to make music on stage with the orchestra.”