Central City Opera’s production of Carmen

Bizet’s powerful and tragic opera about the seductive gypsy and her lust for love and freedom

By Janet Braccio

Central City Opera opens its 85th summer festival with Georges Bizet’s Carmen, running in repertory from July 8 through August 6, in the historic 550-seat opera house in Central City.

“We chose to open our festival with Carmen because we wanted to present this familiar and popular opera in our intimate opera house with a tighter and more intense focus,” said Pelham (Pat) Pearce, general and artistic director of Central City Opera. “Though we presented Carmen in 2011, this summer’s production, with a new artistic team, promises to be fresh and spectacular.”

Carmen, performed in French with French dialogue, had its world premiere at the Opéra Comique, Paris, 1875, and tells the tragic story of the fiery gypsy Carmen, who first seduces the naïve soldier Don José, only to discard him for the charismatic toreador Escamillo.

“It’s a blockbuster opera and certainly has a bigger selection of hummable tunes than any other opera I can think of,” said Adam Turner, conducting his first Carmen. “One of the remarkable things I’ve been recently reminded of is what a master of orchestration Bizet truly was. It’s a score rich with color, unique combinations of instruments, sensual sonorities, and seductive rhythmic devices.”

For the first mainstage opera of its summer festival, Central City Opera welcomes back Emily Pulley (soprano), who makes her role debut as Carmen. Familiar to Central City Opera audiences, Ms. Pulley sang the role of Julie LaVerne in Showboat (2013), Beatrice in Three Decembers (2010), and Susannah Polk in Susannah (2008). Adriano Graziani (tenor) makes his company debut as Don José, a role he sang at the Vorarlberger Landestheater in Austria in 2015. Angela Mortellaro (soprano) makes her company and role debut as Micaëla, Don José’s hometown sweetheart. Singing the role of Escamillo, the toreador, is Michael Mayes (baritone), who last summer sang Scarpia in Tosca and the role of Joseph De Rocher in Dead Man Walking (2014). Jose Maria Condemi, who directed Opera Colorado’s production of Florencia en el Amazonas (2012), makes his Central City Opera directorial debut.

“I’m most excited about the fresh vision of director Jose Maria Condemi and our incredible cast, especially with soprano Emily Pulley in the title role,” said Turner. “Carmen is most frequently cast with a mezzo-soprano, but Emily brings such a unique vocal palette and commanding presence to every performance, and I’m thrilled to see all that she accomplishes vocally and dramatically in the role.”

Central City Opera’s 2017 summer festival continues with Mozart’s Così fan tutte, opening on July 15 and running in repertory in the Central City Opera House through August 4, and three one-act operas opening later in July with limited runs—Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace, Douglas Moore’s Gallantry, and Amy Beach’s Cabildo—performed in smaller venues throughout the mountain town of Central City.

Carmen (Georges Bizet/Ludovic Halévy and Henri Meilhac)
  Performed in French with French dialogue and English supertitles at the Central City Opera House, based on the 1845 novella by Prosper Mérimée
Conductor, Adam Turner

Director, Jose Maria Condemi

Carmen, Emily Pulley (soprano)

Don José, Adriano Graziani (tenor)

Micaëla, Angela Mortellaro (soprano)

Escamillo, Michael Mayes (baritone)

Evenings at 8:00 p.m.: July 8, 20, 28; August 1

Matinees at 2:30 p.m.: July 12, 14, 16, 18, 22, 26, 30; August 3 & August 6

Opening Night Celebration: July 8, Passion & Peril; cocktails at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m.

Boomer Bus: July 26

Opera Bus: July 12 & 16

Family Matinee (sponsored by Nina Odescalchi Kelly): August 1 at 2:30 p.m.
2017 Summer Festival Ticket Information

Festival tickets range from $31 to $108, based on availability. Subscribers who purchase both Central City Opera mainstage operas save 20% off regular ticket prices and receive additional and more exclusive opportunities. One-act opera tickets start at $25 ($22 for subscribers), and group discounts are available for ten or more people. All prices are subject to change, based on availability. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call the box office, 303-292-6700, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
About Central City Opera—Celebrating Its 85th Season
Founded in 1932, Central City Opera is the fifth oldest professional opera company in the country and is renowned for its exquisite world-class productions, competitive and robust young artist training program, and creative educational and community engagement activities. Its summer festival, only 35 miles west of Denver, takes place at 8,500 feet above sea level in the Colorado mountain town of Central City, where the company owns and maintains 28 Victorian-era properties, including the intimate 550-seat jewel box opera house built in 1878. For information, visit  or call

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