Carmen marks new chapter for Fife Opera

The cast take a break from rehearsals
The cast take a break from rehearsals
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There’s something extra special about this year’s production by Fife Opera which is set to entertain audiences in Kirkcaldy next week.

The production marks a new chapter in the life if the local company.

There’s been a change in direction, with the addition of a new musical director in the shape of Alistair Digges. And Peter Easson is on board as director.

But, perhaps one of the most important things is that this year has seen the number of talented people -of all ages - involved in the company increase.

There are now even more people, both local and from further afield, enjoying opera and performing.

As well as the adult cast, there are also two young children’s ensembles who will be ragamuffins in the show.

Fife Opera perform ‘Carmen’ at Adam Smith Theatre from Wednesday, November 5 to Saturday, November 8.

Bizet’s opera was the first full production that Fife Opera tackled 35 years ago, and now it’s time for the company to revisit it.

Set in Seville, the action pivots around Carmen, a gypsy who has the power to seduce any man that suits her fancy. And that she does.

Don José, a corporal, throws honor aside in pursuit of Carmen, but Carmen soon casts off her ardent lover for the handsome toreador Escamillo.

Over 100 performers will take to the stage to tell the gypsy tale this time round.

And among them will be Tony Pearce, who plays Dancairo, is just one of the new members of the operatic company.

He told the Press: “It’s the first one I’ve done with Fife Opera.

“In the past I’ve done quite a few things but since I moved to Scotland I haven’t done a lot of singing.

“Carmen’s my favourite opera so I was pleased to have the opportunity to do it.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and a lot of new people have joined for this production.

“The musical director, Alistair Digges is really enthusiastic and fun to work with.

“He’s made it a really enjoyable experience for everyone.”

Speaking about his character he said: “I’m one of a pair of gypsy smugglers, we’re just doing the best we can to get our goods smuggled into town.”

But there are some familiar faces too that will be recognisable to those who have been to the local company’s previous operatic productions.

Amy Strachan has been involved with Fife Opera for the last five years or so on and off.

She said: “It’s my first time doing ‘Carmen’.

“It’s a really exciting opera.

“Everyone knows that one for a reason, the music is so iconic and it’s thrilling to sing.”

And for the production, Amy will be playing Micaela.

She said: “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her and see a lot of similarities in her.

“She comes from quite a small town and goes to a bigger city to give a message to the man she loves.

“She is quite easy to relate to.

“Rehearsals have been fantastic, Alistair has got so much energy.

“This year especially the cast has been so close so it’s been good to spend the time getting to know everyone.”

And how are the cast feeling about opening night?

“A little bit nervous,” Tony said.

“We’ve got a lot of singing to do over the next few days.

“From Friday we’ll be singing virtually every night for three hours.

“It’s a lot of singing, so I just hope the voice holds out.

“I’m really looking forward to it.

“It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been rehearsing since April or May.

“The full orchestra is going to sound fantastic.

“There are a lot of good soloists including some from the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow.

“They are all fantastic. I think people will really enjoy it.

“We’ve got extra dancers in and it all adds to the spectacle.”

Amy added: “I’m quite excited and a bit nervous.

“You just hope that after months of rehearsals you remember to do everything because after a few nights it’s over.

“But once you see the audience and the music starts you can’t compare the feeling to anything.”

The title role in the production is played by Marcia McDougall and Barbara Scott.

For anyone who may not be familiar with Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ how would you describe it?

“The first thing is that we’re doing it in English,” said Tony.

“So it’s understandable and it’s beautiful music.

“ There’s some great tunes and lots that people will know.”

Amy explained: “It’s a dramatic love story that encompasses probably some of the best opera music that exists.”

Musical director Alistair added: “Carmen is full of recognisable numbers, like the famous Torreador Song, and the music and story is exciting and accessible.

“We urge everyone to help spread the word and come along and enjoy a night at the opera.”

‘Carmen’ by Fife Opera is at Adam Smith Theatre from Wednesday, November 5 to Saturday, November 8.