From May ’09 Spotlight: Was Georges Bizet’s tempestuous heroine “Carmen” a Converso? She’s always referred to as “a gypsy,” but there’s room for doubt. Bizet’s music teacher and father-in-law was Fromental Halévy (composer of the opera La Juive), and Ludovic Halévy, Bizet’s brother-in-law, wrote Carmen’s libretto (in collaboration with Henri Meilhac). Furthermore Carmen is set in Seville, the Spanish home of a prominent Jewish community from Biblical times right up to the point of expulsion in 1492.
These thoughts ran through my head as I watched Nancy Turano’s multifaceted ballet Carmen Act 1, brilliantly performed by Chicago’s Luna Negra Dance Theatre on March 28. Turano is the Artistic Director of the New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble (NJDTE), and the coordinator of a Drew University program for dancers from Israel called “Crossing Borders.” Nancy has promised to let me know the next time she comes to Chicago so I can tell all of you. Meanwhile, for more information, visit http://www.njdte.org.