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Total duration 2 h 50 min
2 intermissions (25 min)
11 performances
21.2.2020 – 14.3.2020
Main Stage
15-119 €

Opera and Ballet performances of the spring 2020 cancelled

Due to the coronavirus epidemic all the remaining Opera and Ballet performances of the spring season were cancelled. We want to secure the health and safety of our audiences and our staff.

The second part of Richard Wagner’s RING tetralogy, Die Walküre, and the last ballet premiere of the spring, COW, will be postponed to next season. 

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The classic story as a fiery ballet

Carmen is one of the world’s favourite operas, but how will it look on the ballet stage? British Liam Scarlett has created a touching and dramatic classical ballet, which drew full houses in the Norwegian National Ballet after its world premiere in 2015. Scarlett’s choreography is accompanied by the familiar music of Georges Bizet.

Recommended for children over the age of 9. 


Oppressive setting in 1930s Spain

Like the opera, the story of Liam Scarlett’s ballet is set in a cigarette factory, but in 1930s Spain – just before the outbreak of the Civil War. It’s a world in which everyone must fend for themselves and do whatever is necessary survive.


Ballet steps to opera music

Though the ballet is danced to Georges Bizet’s music, those expecting an exact replica of the opera score will be surprised. Conductor Martin Yates has adapted the music to support the dramatic arc of the ballet, yet leaving the most famous themes in place. The music of the opera is complemented by other compositions by George Bizet, which share the same quintessentially Spanish sentiment.


A young choreographer with a global reputation

British Liam Scarlett is Resident Choreographer at The Royal Ballet in London and Queensland Ballet’s Artistic Associate in Australia. He has created choreographies for several other prominent ballet groups, such as the English National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. Carmen, Scarlett’s first full-length ballet, saw its world premiere at the Norwegian National Ballet in 2015.

#carmenballet #FNBcarmen


“I want the audience to empathise with both Carmen and Don José. I have attempted to make this into as great a love story as possible, even though it ends with a murder.”

– Choreographer Liam Scarlett


Micaëla has travelled from a nearby village to a cigarette factory to see her teenage sweetheart, Don José, in order to deliver a message from his mother. The women working at the factory are supervised by a guard, Zuniga. The atmosphere is tense. The monotony of factory labour is only interrupted by the changing of the guard. After Zuniga’s departure, Carmen entertains the guards and notices Don José, throwing a flower to him. Micaëla finally meets Don José and their old feelings are reignited. The encounter is interrupted by a scream from the factory: a fight has erupted between Carmen and the other women. She is taken away from the others and Don José is assigned to guard her. To get away, Carmen seduces Don José, who is arrested for his negligence.

Carmen and the other gypsies have taken refuge in a tavern. The famous bullfighter, Escamillo, arrives and seduces Carmen. The next day, Escamillo leaves and Don José arrives, declaring his love to Carmen. Carmen and Don José plan to run away together and get married. Don José travels to the gypsy camp to wait for Carmen, but before leaving to join him, Carmen runs into Escamillo. He promises her a perfect life by his side. Carmen writes in a letter to Don José that she doesn’t love him after all. Micaëla arrives at the tavern and she is trusted with delivering the letter to the gypsy camp. At the camp, Micaëla tries to talk Don José to follow her, but he professes his love for Carmen. Having read Carmen’s letter, Don José falls into despair.

At a party to celebrate Escamillo’s victorious bullfight and marriage, Carmen starts to doubt whether she should’ve ever got married. Don José still tries to convince Carmen to run away with him. Consumed by his passion, Don José stabs Carmen to death. Carmen dies in his arms.

You can read the full synopsis and other background information in the programme leaflet.

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Mini Opera: Carmen: Saara Kiiveri; Sampo Haapaniemi

Mini Opera: Carmen

Creative team

Liam Scarlett
Georges Bizet
Musical arrangement
Martin Yates
Sets, costumes
Jon Bausor
Lighting design
James Farncombe


A production of the Norwegian National Ballet.


2 h 50 min
2 intermissions (25 min)
11 performances
21.2.2020 – 14.3.2020
Main Stage
15-119 €
Fri 21.2.2020
at 19:00
Sat 22.2.2020
at 19:00
Thu 27.2.2020
at 19:00
Fri 28.2.2020
at 19:00
Sat 29.2.2020
at 19:00
Tue 3.3.2020
at 19:00
Wed 4.3.2020
at 19:00
Thu 5.3.2020
at 19:00
Sat 7.3.2020
at 14:00
Thu 12.3.2020
at 19:00
Sat 14.3.2020
at 19:00

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