In an Era of #Metoo, Carmen Gets a Makeover at the Axelrod PAC

New Theatrical Productions Begin to Reflect Societal Changes

Augusta Carso and Victor Starsky star in Carmen at the Axelrod

On the heels of recent Broadway revivals like “My Fair Lady” and “Carousel” that have been revised and reimagined through a #metoo and #timesup lens, the Axelrod Performing Arts Center’s upcoming presentation of the opera “Carmen” takes a century-old story and tells it with a timely new twist.

First performed by the Opéra-Comique in Paris in Paris in 1875 and composed by Georges Bizet, “Carmen” was the groundbreaking show of its time, considered both shocking and scandalous. It has since become one of the most popular operas of all time.  

Initially set in southern Spain, “Carmen” tells the story of a naïve soldier, Don José, who is seduced by the fiery gypsy Carmen. After he abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts the military, Don José loses Carmen's love to the glamorous matador Escamillo and kills her in a jealous rage.

Under the direction of Andrea DelGuidice, whose daring production of La Traviata traveled from the Axelrod last year to the Narnia Festival in Italy, Carmen is no longer the victim, nor is the setting Seville in the late 1800s.

“I create my stories from the point of view of the main female character(s),” says DelGuidice. “My passion is to break the old operatic stereotype of the ‘female victim’ as seen through the eyes of men. This shift in perspective gives us full story as we experience these women for who they really are, which is so relevant in today’s world!

“My decision to transfer the story of Carmen to New York City in the 1970s was inspired by one of the most controversial women of the 20th-Century Columbian Black Widow Griselda Blanco.”

The story of Blanco is getting renewed attention now that Academy Award and Tony Award-winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones is starring in the Lifetime feature based on her colorful, scandalous life.

“I’ve become obsessed by the parallels between the power-driven gypsy Carmen and Blanco,” says DelGuidice. “Thematically, the stories overlap in terms of the love triangle, the strife of war and the smuggling of contraband.”

In DelGuidice’s staging, Carmen migrates to the United States and Don José is a returning soldier from Vietnam. 

Bizet’s world-renowned score to “Carmen” is exciting and infectious, with widely-recognized tunes like “The Toreador Song,” “The Habanera, “The Flower Song,” and “Seguidilla.”

“Whether it’s Dorothy Dandridge in ‘Carmen Jones,’ a classic recording by Maria Callas, Placido Domingo in the film, or a spoof on ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ everyone has encountered the music of “Carmen” somewhere,” says Artistic Director Andrew DePrisco, who is a self-acclaimed opera fanatic. “It’s the perfect first opera for anyone curious about what this crazy over-the-top phenomenon is all about.”

Singing the role of Carmen is Augusta Caso, whom the Wall Street Journal called “electrifying,” and about whom the New York Times wrote, “Ms. Caso’s acting and her expressive, poignant singing combined for a courageous performance.”

The role of Don José will be sung by tenor Victor Starsky, while the role of Micaela will be sung by soprano Devony Smith and Escamillo by baritone Gustavo Feulien.

The orchestra will be conducted by Jason Tramm, and members of the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater will be choreographed by Gabriel Chajnik, both Ocean Grove residents. The set design is by Fred Sorrentino (Brick) and the costume design by Fred Mayo (Neptune). The performance will be sung in French with supertitles in English.

“Carmen” plays Saturday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 16 at 3 p.m. Tickets range from $35 to $42 and can be purchased at or by calling the box office at 732-531-9106, ext. 14. Group rates are available for parties of ten or more. The venue features ample, free, on-site parking and is completely accessible.

About the Axelrod Performing Arts Center

The Axelrod Performing Arts Center is New Jersey’s newest professional theater, specializing in the production of musical theater. APAC fosters artistic excellence by showcasing varied and distinct cultural programs that enrich the imaginative, intellectual, and creative soul, while cultivating an appreciation of diverse communities through the pursuit of the arts. For more information, please visit

Source: Axelrod PAC

Categories: Arts and Entertainment

Tags: #Metoo, Andrea DelGuidice, Axelrod, Axelrod Theater, Carmen, Deal New Jersey, New Jersey Arts, Ocean township, Opera

About Axelrod Performing Arts Center

View Website or Newsroom

The Axelrod Performing Arts Center fosters artistic excellence by showcasing varied and distinct cultural programs.

Axelrod Performing Arts Center
100 Grant Avenue
Deal, NJ 07223
United States