All time opera classic ‘Carmen’ was brought to life in Suva last night by a 29 year old commerce student in a Pacific adaptation hailed as a perfect rendition of the original French musical.
‘Domo Ni Karmen’ or ‘Karmen’s Voice’ premiered before a full house audience of about 700 including diplomats, lawyers, judges and members of the business community at Suva’s Civic Auditorium.
Artists put on a grand show of their talents to the beating of the lali (Fijian percussion instrument), bamboo nose flute, ukulele (island guitar), clapping and some amazing dancing and singing.
Musicians from the New Caledonia Conservatoire also took the stage giving a performance that left people speechless.
The opera is an initiative of the French embassy and directed by renowned New Zealand-based musical director Igelese Ete, choirmaster for ‘Lord of the Rings’, and local playwright and stage director Larry Thomas.
In an opening statement, former minister Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau said the original ‘Carmen’, described as the most beloved and played opera of all time, had never dated.
“The themes and issues are still very much prevalent in our society even today,” she said.
Set in three locations; a squatter settlement, a bar in Suva and the National Stadium, ‘Domo Ni Karmen’ is about an attractive woman who captivates men with her beauty and leads them astray.
Yet, like any other woman, she still desires to be loved and in the process of changing for the sake of love, encounters the strange hand of destiny.
Twenty nine year old Natasha Underwood conveyed the character brilliantly, bringing the crowd to its feet in applause at the end.
Fourth in a family of seven girls, Suva-born Natasha is pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of the South Pacific majoring in Economics to fulfill her dream to become an economist.
But it was her passion for music art that drove her to audition for the production, earning her the title role.
The original ‘Carmen’ by French composer Georges Alexandre César Léopold Bizet was performed in Paris in 1875 and was not met with the best of reviews.
Bizet died after the thirtieth showing of the opera, sadly, before he could see its success.
Two other shows of ‘Domo ni Karmen’ will be staged in Suva following the success of last night’s performance.
Tickets are selling for $15 from Esquires, Alliance Francaise and the International School in Suva.