It is an amazing thing to witness the passion and commitment of regional arts when more than 100 individuals gather together to stage an opera. For those of you who have never seen live opera, you should take the plunge for Boheme Opera NJ’s upcoming presentation of Georges Bizet’s Carmen.

On Friday, April 8, at 8 p.m. or Sunday, April 10, at 3 p.m., this French classic will be performed in Kendall Main Stage Theater at the College of New Jersey, 2000 Pennington Road, Ewing. Not only will you be captivated by a pounding story filled with a host of sordid characters, but with one hit tune after another, Carmen has that splendid capacity to stick with you for days, weeks, and months after experiencing it. It is simply unforgettable.

To help you get a bit familiar with Carmen, you should know that Georges Bizet saw a great opportunity for an opera in Prosper Merimee’s novel by the same name. In the novel, the love-sick soldier Don Jose tells the story himself — how he lost his rank, his position and finally his life itself because of his crazy infatuation with the gypsy Carmen. Merimee’s Jose is a tougher, more brutal type than Bizet’s. He had already committed three murders before he met Carmen, and there was nothing soft about him.

However, Bizet felt compelled to take the edge off his Jose regarding his real-life passion to satisfy theater management censors at the Opera-Comique where it would premiere. Jose remained at the core of Bizet’s adaptation — a real man who self-destructs because of his obsession with a real woman. It is Bizet’s librettists, Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy, who should be applauded as well for this fabulous masterpiece, as they truly shaped a marvelous vehicle for Bizet’s genius.

Boheme Opera has updated its new production to 1950s Spain to reflect the controversial and magnificent matadors of that Golden Age of Bullfighting. The matadors in the bullring — also called toreros — were known to their public with descriptive references such as the sable-eyed, the irrepressible, or the slightly flippant. It is Escamillo, the swaggering matador in Bizet’s opera, who becomes the envy of our soldier Jose, and in the end, his fateful undoing.

This production packs a punch and stages 58 people — cast, adult, and children’s choruses — accompanied by the 32-piece Boheme Opera Orchestra. Boheme Artistic Director and Conductor Joseph Pucciatti has staged the production with Associate Director Howard Zogott.

Additionally, our talented artistic and technical teams help to frame and adorn the product on stage. It is extraordinary to contemplate the hours of willing dedication and hard work that will bring Carmen to completion on Boheme Opera’s main stage. You’ll have to buy a ticket and see for yourself.

Online tickets are available 24/7 at http://bit.ly/1Niwf2k, by phone at 609-771-2775 during box office hours: Monday through Friday, 5 to 9 p.m., as well as Tuesday and Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. More tickets are available on Friday opening night than on Sunday matinee.

Tickets are $65, $50, and $35. Group rate for 10 or more in Premiere and Median Sections gives $10 off, students are $15 anywhere in theater with school ID spoken or shown. Special needs shuttle available on campus, Pre-Curtain Talks one hour prior to performances. Sung in French with projected English supertitles and English dialogue throughout. For more details, visit www.bohemeopera.com.

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