With not long to go until opening night, we caught up with American mezzo-soprano Chrystal E. Williams, who makes her Opera North debut in the title role of Bizet’s Carmen…
Tell us about the character of Carmen.
Carmen is a woman influenced by life and her life’s experiences. She is brave, daring, courageous, intelligent, strong, true to her beliefs. This is why she so emphatically seeks liberty above all else; on that she will not compromise. She will do what she has to do in order to live freely, whatever the consequences.
What is unique about this particular production?
Well, there are a few theatrical surprises that I’m excited to enjoy on stage (including fan dances and a fly-in swing!), and a keen message to be expressed in line with the #MeToo movement.
Along with these, though, is a fuller picture of Carmen as a person, and others as well. The stereotypical image of Carmen as the sexy femme fatale is not all that she is. Peel away the top layer and there you will find the myriad of colours, blended and burned together through the years.
What are you enjoying most about rehearsals?
I’m enjoying exploring this iconic character. This is my role and house debut, and I am ever grateful and blessed for this opportunity to share and create and bring to life the beauty that is Carmen.
Do you have a favourite moment in the piece?
The orchestral Act III entr’acte – the music is fantastic!
Is Carmen a good choice for a first-time opera?
Absolutely! The score is phenomenal – people will no doubt recognise the music, such as the famous Habanera and the Toreador Song, and will have heard bits and pieces of Carmen through commercials on TV and Looney Tunes etc. The chorus alone is stunning, the orchestra is great, and the story is full of passion and drama. What more could you ask for? It’s a fantastic piece of theatre!