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Plot twist: opera Carmen altered in anti-violence protest

Plot twist: opera Carmen altered in anti-violence protest
From CBC - January 11, 2018

Carmen, the opera heroine, gets to live instead of being slainthanks to a bold twist to the finale of the Georges Bizet work by some who believe it's time to say enough to violence against women.

The production of Carmenthis month at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino theater in Florence is the talk of the town, and seats are sold out through the last performance on Jan. 18.

In the classic opera, first performed in Paris in 1875, the feisty gypsy Carmen is murdered by Don Jose in a fit of jealousy. But those in the cast thought the time was ripe for a new finale given Italy's recent, burgeoning movement to combat male violence against female partners or relatives. And so this production's ending has the heroine shooting to death Don Jose.

"It's a way to say to all, men and women, 'enough of the violence,"' soprano Veronica Simeoni told The Associated Press before Wednesday's performance.

"In this case, there's a precise message against violence targeting women, a plague that has concerned all of us always, and in this moment is before the eyes of everybody."

According to figures from the Italian National Institute of Statistics, one in three Italian women aged 16-70 experienced physical or sexual violence in 2014. In 2016, 149 Italian women were murdered, half of whom were killed by partners or ex-partners.

Mixed reactions, sold-out run

The reaction from opera-goers and on social media was mixed. Luca Paoletti, who was in the audience, was lukewarm about the ending.

"I do not consider it a great idea, but it can be useful for talking about the issue of violence on women. It takes the risk to open the door to interpretation that can twist the real spirit of the opera, but we can accept it as a provocation," he said.

Opera reviewer Alberto Matteoli of La Stampa thought the production fell short of the revolution that it hoped to provoke.

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