OAKHURST – The opera Carmen debuted in 1875 to a Paris audience reputed to have been both alarmed and aghast. French composer Georges Bizet’s startling opera went on to become an international hit, and now, the entire fiasco is the topic of the 19th annual opera series taking place at Evergreen Conference Center Oakhurst (ECCO).
ECCO’s “Carmen and the Consequences” weekend begins Friday, Apr. 11 at noon, boasting esteemed lecturer Professor Simon Williams, visiting from the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). The event concludes on Monday, Apr. 14, after lunch.
Carmen tells the story of the naive Don José, a soldier who is seduced by the wild gypsy Carmen, leading to his downfall. The opera is said to be brilliant in both melody and characterizations, and has been adapted to many versions on stage and screen.
“Carmen and the Consequences” at ECCO is open to all who are interested in the weekend of provocative thought in a location sure to delight the senses.
“Treat yourself to an educational adventure that includes lively lectures, open discussion, tea time, and free time to enjoy the serene surroundings, including the elegant meals.” say organizers at ECCO. “It’s also a chance to meet other opera enthusiasts.”
One such enthusiast is Simon Williams, a professor in the Department of Theater and Dance at UCSB. He has directed operates including “The Turn of the Screw,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “L’incoronazione di Poppea.”
Williams is internationally recognized on the history of acting and Shakespearean performance, as well as on opera as drama, and the history of operatic staging. The ECCO regular has lectured worldwide on Wagner, and has spoken on a wide range of operas at opera houses and opera Guilds.
According to the lecture weekend’s summary from ECCO, “Carmen was one of the most interesting sensations in operatic history,” beginning with its debut at the Opéra Comique in Paris, on Mar. 3, 1875.
“When Bizet’s much anticipated opera opened, the first act was well received by the audience, but after that, things went downhill fast.”
Critics who remained after the initial exodus were “largely appalled at what they had seen and heard.” The opera ran for 36 performances and Bizet’s sudden death prevented him from ever knowing what a success his work had become.
The cost to attend as a commuter is $439, including all meals and the program. Contact ECCO for discounts and lodging options. Meals included begin with a wine social and dinner on Friday, and end after lunch on Monday. Dinner on Sunday is a semi-formal gala.
ECCO is a year-round conference center located just north of the town of Oakhurst, located just 15 miles from Yosemite National Park. ECCO is a nonprofit conference and retreat center, providing lodging, meals and a variety of recreational activities.