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Gypsy Seductress, Pop Rock Style

On Sunday, I went to see the La Jolla Playhouse's production of Carmen , directed by Franco Dragone , one of the creators of Cirque du Soleil .

Carmen (Janien Valentine) sets her sights on famed bullfighter Escamillo (Victor Wallace) in the world premiere musical Carmen at La Jolla Playhouse. Photo by Kevin Berne

Here is what you should expect: a very compact little Carmen with a huge voice, pony-tailed and beefy male leads (both of whom can also sing), a totally kickass flamenco number by a real-deal flamenco dancer, incredibly derivative and unimaginative pop music, cloying lyrics, and mediocre choreography, with the exception of a few standout numbers -- including a rape scene, in which the choreography was daring, athletic, and disturbingly mesmerizing.


After the show, I moderated a panel discussion for the Playhouse's Discovery Sunday series , which invites audiences to stick around after the performance and talk ideas. Our panel discussed the many iterations of Carmen in opera and film. The panelists were KPBS' film critic Beth Accomando and Dr. Nick Reveles from San Diego Opera.

I have to say, our panel was chock full of juicy tidbits and fun anecdotes about Bizet's Carmen and the various film versions. There have been over 70 movies about Carmen, including one by Godard and one starring Beyonc? as Carmen ! The latter was a 2001 MTV production called Carmen: A Hip Hopera . Yeah, you read that right. A Hip Hopera.

The brilliantly talented Mos Def is even in it! Oh, rue the day some slick talking MTV exec convinced Mos Def that a hip hopera would be a career booster.

Please tell me someone out there has actually seen this hip hopera. Strangely, I'm enjoying writing hip hopera. It rolls off the keys...

-- Angela Carone produces arts and culture programming for These Days and Culture Lust . Please read our guidelines before posting comments.