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Sensuous Carmen Comes To The Stage


Monday 28 June 2004


The NBR New Zealand Opera announced today American dramatic mezzo-soprano Jessie Raven will perform the title role in the Genesis Energy Spring Season of Carmen in Wellington and Auckland during September/October 2004. Ms Raven replaces Sarah Castle, a New Zealand singer currently based in the UK, who has stepped aside as she is expecting her first child very soon.

A native of Vermont, Ms Raven is steadily gaining attention for her intensity, both in voice and striking physical presence. She has already performed the well-known title role for productions in Singapore, the UK and the US including Opera Columbus, El Paso Opera and Opera North, and recently made her New York City Opera debut in the role. Following the New Zealand season she will perform Carmen for Opera Ontario. Her performances have wowed critics; one describing her as a "mezzo soprano that is sumptuous and voluminous … a Carmen that exudes sensuality"; another: "Raven's voice was a triumph of sensuousness and sound"; and English Opera publication Opera News: "physically perfect for Carmen, Raven may prove one of the role's premier interpreters in the near future."

Alex Reedijk, General Director of The NBR New Zealand Opera said: "We're truly delighted to be bringing Ms Raven here to perform opera's "bad girl" - a strong-willed gypsy with sensuous and fearless qualities. Ms Raven's growing reputation and experience in the role to date will make for a stunning interpretation. Carmen is musically thrilling with lots of dazzling tunes and so dramatically compelling that it guarantees a hot night out that's hard to beat. This is high-voltage opera at its best!"

Bizet's Carmen is regarded as one of the world's top ten opera classics. The NBR New Zealand Opera's new production this spring will be conducted by young, talented French conductor Emmanuel Plasson and directed by Jonathan Cocker - director of last year's Tosca. Set designs are by John Verryt, costumes by Elizabeth Whiting and lighting by Marc Simpson. A further announcement on casting is expected soon.

The Genesis Energy Spring Season of Carmen is at the Westpac St James Theatre, Wellington from 16 to 25 September, and then at Auckland's Aotea Centre from 7 to 17 October.


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