The archetype of the femme fatale has always accompanied us in mythology, art and literature. With Carmen, the protagonist of the eponymous novella by Prosper Mérimée and the opera by Georges Bizet, this archetype undoubtedly attained widespread social attention. But often, the allegorical value of Carmen is brought to the forefront of artistic creation and the entertainment industry as the sole, or at least central, merit of an exceptional work. Mérimée’s masterpiece is multi-layered and foresighted. It emerged in one of the most turbulent times of the 19th century, when liberals and traditionalists in Catholic Europe sought to enforce their own social order for the common good, but ignored the role of an invisible force. A power that trumps and outlasts even those of natural and civil liberties. The power that drives a Navarran honorable hidalgo and dutiful dragoon to become a notorious outlaw. The power that can combine honor and atrocity, unleashing empathy and resentment at the same time. The power of a sincere, unshakable, ardent and inextinguishable affection. The power of love.

Mérimée immortalizes himself as a witness to this force; as a storm chaser who fearlessly penetrates deep into the interior of a force in order to discover its beauty and explain its power. And yet, he remains only an observer, a contemporary witness, a tritagonist. It is remarkable with what literary virtuosity José’s pain is shaped after his beloved Carmen falls by his own hands as she confesses that she cannot love him and wants to be free forever. Devastated, José surrenders, awaiting his death penalty. But where does the pain of a literary lover end and the emptiness of the real observer begin? “To love or to have loved, that is enough. Don’t ask any more questions. There is no other pearl in the dark folds of life,” wrote Mérimée’s contemporary Victor Hugo. No one can escape the longing for love, not even a cosmopolitan liberal like Mérimée. He describes his protagonist with a striking adaptability to conflicting norms. Transformed from lawman to outlaw and then ready to start from scratch again, he embodies a constant that prevails over both the boundless freedom of self-interest and the authority of the state. José’s unrelenting love makes him fail in two worlds, once as a dutiful lawman and then as a notorious bandit. Mérimée affirms love as a universal power that trumps worldviews. In our interpretation, it is the power that transcends epochs and never loses momentum. Because in the absence of love, the longing for it is all the more powerful.

Music: Georges Bizet
Arrangement: Konstantin Yaskou
Choreography: Volha Kastsel
Libretto: Volha Kastsel based on Prosper Mérimée‘s novella Carmen

  • CUBE 521: 25 and 26 February 2023
  • Opderschmelz Dudelange: 28 February and 1 March 2023

Luxembourg Ballet dancers:
Kateryna Floria, Anton Kravchenko, Artem Shoshyn, Victoria Tvardovskaya, Susanne Wessel, Alisha Leyder, Sofia Binetti, Carine Baccega, Laura Guessan, Oleksii Busko, Oleksii Potemkin

Musicians from Ecole Régionale de Musique de la Ville Dudelange:
Judith Lecuit, violoncello, Max Mausen, clarinet, Ender Vielma, guitar, Luc Hemmer, percussion, Vania Lecuit, violin, Tommes Rute, trumpet

With the financial support of:
  • Ministry of Culture, Luxembourg
  • CUBE 521 asbl