‘Carmen in 3D’ to premiere at Santa Barbara Film Festival, with March 5 theatrical opening


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‘Carmen in 3D’ -- which is believed to be the first opera to be shot in 3-D for movie theaters -- will premiere as the closing selection of the Santa Barbara FIlm Festival on Feb. 6 and is scheduled to open in cinemas around the world on March 5, organizers said Thursday.

The movie version uses a 2006 staging of the Georges Bizet opera directed by Francesca Zambello at the Royal Opera House in London. The movie was shot over two performances in 2010, and stars Christine Rice in the title role, Bryan Hymel as Don Jose, Aris Argiris as Escamillo and Maija Kovalevska as Micaëla. Conductor Constantinos Carydis leads the Royal Opera House Orchestra.


The movie’s running time is estimated at two hours and 50 minutes, with one 20-minute intermission. It is performed in French with subtitles.

Carmen’ is a co-production with the Royal Opera House and RealD, the Beverly Hills cinema company whose proprietary 3-D technology is among the widest used around the world. Organizers said that ‘Carmen’ will play exclusively in RealD 3-D-equipped theaters at more than 1,500 locations worldwide.

The popular Bizet warhorse was first performed in 1875 in Paris, and is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world. A critic for the Guardian wrote of a 2010 staging of the Zambello production that ‘newcomers to Bizet’s opera will not be disappointed. Zambello’s production is traditional, well-lit and efficient.’ However, the critic added that ‘important scenes are beginning to sag, notably in a listless first act, and there is too much cliched choral thigh-splaying and Gypsy knife-waving for comfort.’

The top opera companies around the world -- including the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House and La Scala -- have been filming productions for cinematic distribution for a few years, but until now, they have all been in the traditional 2-D format.

-- David Ng

Photo (top): a poster of ‘Carmen in 3D.’ Credit: Mike Hoban / Royal Opera House

Photo (bottom): Georges Bizet. Credit: Wikimedia Commons



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