Students of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Opera Theater have been preparing since last year for their production of George Bizet’s opera, “Carmen.”

The four-act play features themes common with most romantic operas, which audience members will be able to relate to, said Dave Sadlier, UTRGV associate professor of music and director of the Opera Theater.

“The plot includes the basic elements of humanity – love, jealousy, attraction and revenge,” Sadlier said. “It is a performance that is presented in a grand French opera style, with a chorus and orchestra, and is even a four-act opera; yet, the elements of the storyline include basic human feelings that aren’t grand at all.

“I think that is what makes ‘Carmen’ remarkable.”

“Carmen” is set in Seville, Spain during the mid-18th century.

The plot follows the narrative of Carmen, a Spanish gypsy who is beloved by the community for being attractive, and is played by Cecilia Molina. Carmen finds herself interested in Don Jose, a soldier, played by Angel Gomez, who pretends to ignore her attention, but soon falls in love. However, Don is in a relationship with Micaela, which soon creates the scathing plot of love and revenge of the renowned opera.

Besides the wide popularity of the opera and its musical pieces, Sadlier said that his decision of producing “Carmen” this semester was because it was an opportunity to produce a Spanish opera for the Rio Grande Valley. “Carmen” was originally written in French, but this production will be in Spanish since the plot is set in Spain.

“It was an effort to find something to connect to the community,” Sadlier said. “We wanted to choose something that people here can look forward to, and for those who maybe have been scared to see an opera, to see one in Spanish.”

This is the first UTRGV production to cast students from both Edinburg and Brownsville campuses, with a main cast of 11 students, a chorus of 16, and children’s chorus of 10. The orchestra is composed of a medley of UTRGV students and faculty. Sadlier said that this production has been the “biggest endeavor that has ever happened in the Valley.”

“It is a huge endeavor,” Sadlier added. “People need to come not just for the music, but to understand the work ethic. They need to come to the concert hall and hear the lead soloist sing without a microphone over the orchestra.”

The opera performed two shows this week in the Camille Playhouse theater in Brownsville.

A final showing at the Edinburg campus will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday at the UTRGV Performing Arts Center. The show runs for 3 1/2 hours.

The guest stage director of this production is Scott Skiba, an award-winning director who has led more than 60 other productions. Skiba is the director of opera studies and associate professor at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music and is the assistant artistic director for the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival.

Sadlier said that besides the opportunity to produce Carmen, he is thankful for the chance to work with his students and witness their dedication to theater.

“It’s neat because I got to see my students use their voices outside of class and see them taking on pivotal roles,” he said. “I got to see them test themselves as singers and actors; see them rise to the next level and put their education into work.”


WHAT: The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Opera Theater presents George Bizet’s “Carmen” in Spanish.
WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: UTRGV Performing Arts Center, West University Drive, Edinburg
COST: $15 per adult, $10 per senior, $5 per student; available online at patron.utrgv.edu/carmen