New 'Carmen' will rock opera world


THE WOODLANDS, Texas -- In the 123 years since Georges Bizet's masterpiece had its premiere at the Opera-Comique in Paris, "Carmen" was never like this.

The Houston Grand Opera is putting on a $1.3 million one-time-only outdoor production that employs techniques straight from the world of rock, including huge video backdrops that will show live close-ups of the action on stage as well as slidelike still projections.

"This is MTV opera," said David Gottlieb, president and chairman of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, the suburban theater where the performance is set for tonight. "This is a 'Carmen' that will rock."

The production -- 2 1/2 years in development -- will have computerized lighting designed by Ken Billington, a Tony Award winner. Its director, Michele Assaf, once directed a Rolling Stones tour.

And what would Bizet think?

"He'd probably be thrilled," David Gockley, general director of the opera company. "So often we think of these classical composers as great gods and purists, but basically most were businessmen, impresarios in their own right."

Upward of 7,000 people are expected to attend.

Pub Date: 5/30/98

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