Sung in French with English dialogue and English
Text projected above the stage
SATURDAY, March 28, 2009 at 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, March 29, 2009 at 3:00 PM
the irresistible gypsy girl, ignites and
manipulates the love-struck soldier, Don Jose, and
the pair set the stage ablaze. As familiar as
Bizetís music is to nearly every ear, it never fails
to ravish the senses. In celebration of our tenth
season, Rimrock Opera presents Carmen on
Saturday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March
29, 2009 at 3 p.m. at the Alberta Bair Theater. A
full orchestra, stunning sets, sumptuous period
costumes, and members of the Rimrock Opera Chorus
for Kids, frame the principal singers to break
faithful hearts once again.
The Cast for
Many have contributed to make opera successful
(PDF 7 meg)
Cathy Ulrich Talks to Lead Actors (VIDEO)
Kids Captivated Carmen
Carmen Plays Twice This Weekend
Billings Gazette Stories
Dress Rehearsal Photos
Rimrock Opera stages classic tale of tragic love
JACI WEBB Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Thursday, March 19,
2009 11:00 pm
Jeff Kitto looked like he was making snow angels on the gray
patterned rug in a store front off Shiloh Road.
Bozeman tenor, a lead in Rimrock Opera Company's upcoming
production of "Carmen," had his 6-foot-3 frame stretched into an
"X" shape waiting for blocking instructions from stage director
Douglas Nagel. Because the opera isn't set to open until March
26 with a student matinee, the rehearsal was pretty relaxed
Monday night. There was time to goof around a bit.
half of the 75-member chorus was on hand, wearing an array of
clothing, from a "Dimebag Darrell" T-shirt on one of the men to
bright gauzy skirts on several women. It was the first of many
long evening rehearsals. Vocalists had already learned the
French lyrics and complex music, written by George Bizet in the
1870s. They sounded ready for opening night, voices uplifting
and melodic, but their movements were uncertain as they strode
across the room. Over and over again.
The rehearsal was
for Act III, during which a band of gypsies crosses a mountain
pass, dragging lumpy bags of smuggled goods.
coaching cocktail of prodding, insight and humor, this curious
mix of community members started to resemble a tired troupe of
gypsies, gossiping and groaning when they weren't singing their
"Ever notice how people in Europe are very
buddy-buddy with each other?" Nagel asked, urging them to link
arms and hold hands while they walked.
Nagel boosted the
size of the chorus for this production, eager to educate more
people in the nuances of opera. In this group, there are
choristers who have performed in eight operas and singers who
joined the group over the winter, responding to a call for
auditions. Steve Green and two of his three teenage daughters,
Deyja and Devera, are all in the chorus, and noted pianist
Jacquelyn Weitz and her brother Joseph are also part of the
"We had a gas," Nagel said after the rehearsal.
"It was a really great moment for me because it looked like they
were learning and they were having fun."
So lurid is the
tale of the gypsy temptress Carmen that Paris audiences scorned
the opera when it was first performed in 1875. But other
composers raved about "Carmen," including Tchaikovsky and
Brahms, who reportedly saw it performed more than 20 times and
considered it the greatest opera in Europe at the time. "Carmen"
is sung in French, set in Spain and has dialogue spoken in
The story follows Carmen, a sensuous gypsy, who
slashes another worker with her knife and is held captive,
awaiting a trip to prison. But her captor, Don Jose, is so
smitten that he helps her escape. The role of Carmen is played
by Montana native, mezzo-soprano Heidi Rae. Jose (pronounced
Joe-zay) is played by Kitto. Other roles are played by
Christopher Holmes, Carolyn Coefield, Megen King, Meghan Dibble,
Isai Jess Munoz, Dennis Rupp, Bret Weston and Chris Sheppard.
Andy Anderson conducts, and Sandi Rabas serves as rehearsal
As testament to the Rimrock Opera Company's
strong reputation in the opera world, Nagel said he is able to
bring performers back again and again.
"None of the leads
are making their debut here," Nagel said. "They've all appeared
in at least one opera here."
Fresh out of college and all
set to move to Nashville to pursue a career in country and pop
music, Rae was persuaded by Nagel to try her hand at opera and
joined ROC for "Hansel and Gretel."
That was an important
move for the Lewistown native because through other cast
members, Rae met her future husband. Her experience in Billings
also helped her get parts in productions by Opera Idaho and
Opera San Jose and a role in Baz Luhrmann's "Boheme on
"The gingerbread children were my future husband's
cousins," she said. "And at the after-party, I was introduced to
him. He only went to the opera to support his cousin. Now, I put
him over to the other side and he enjoys opera."
founding member of The Clintons rock band of Bozeman, made a
guest appearance with his former band on St. Patrick's Day at
Bones Brewery. He is hoping to coax a couple of his former
bandmates to make a walk-on appearance in "Carmen" next week.
This role of a hot-headed Spanish soldier has Kitto digging
deeper into his own psyche.
"If I contrast it to my role in
'Elixir' last year, which had some passion in it but it was
pretty light-hearted, this role is very strong. I go from a man
so broken-hearted and then so angry. I look at my little girl
and my wife and tap into the pool of passion there."
JAMES WOODCOCK/Gazette Staff
The sensuous gypsy
Carmen, portrayed by Heidi Rae, tempts her captor Don Jose, sung
by Jeffrey Kitto, in Rimrock Opera's production of Bizet's
"Carmen," which runs March 28 and 29 at the Alberta Bair
JAMES WOODCOCK/Gazette Staff
Mezzo-soprano and Montana native
Heidi Rae performs the title role in the Rimrock Opera
production of "Carmen," coming to the ABT.
Micaela, portrayed by Carolyn Coefield,
tries to win back her childhood love Don Jose (Jeff Kitto), but
he has eyes only for Carmen. Coefield and Kitto are two of the
performers in the upcoming Rimrock Opera production of "Carmen."
Kids captivated Carmen
Gazette News Services | Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:00
"No" never sounded as blasphemous as it did Thursday coming out
of Carmen's painted lips.
How dare she spurn Don Jose's
worshipful adulation and choose death over love? Five hundred
area high school students felt opera's force Thursday morning at
the Alberta Bair Theater. The high drama, including a girl
fight, a duel with knives, and a death scene, wasn't lost on
"I liked the death scene best. And the woman who played
Carmen was really good," said Heidi Breeden, a sophomore from
Heidi Rae, a Lewistown native, played the title
role and Jeff Kitto, of Bozeman, played her spurned lover Don
Jose. Carolyn Coefield played Jose's childhood sweetheart
Elizabeth Schneemann, also a sophomore from Forsyth,
said she sings in the school choir, but wasn't sure if she'd
ever tackle an opera role.
"I'd be nervous," she said.
The Forsyth students boarded buses before sunrise to catch
the morning performance of Rimrock Opera Company's production.
They planned to have lunch at Rimrock Mall before heading home.
Not one school canceled their trip to see the opera, despite
snow-packed roads, ABT education director Bess Fredlund said.
Students came from Cody, Wyo., Reed Point, Joliet, Lodge
Grass, Laurel and across Billings. For many, it was their first
opera and several dressed for the occasion. Randell Hopkins, a
freshman at Billings Christian School, donned a tie and dress
shirt. He and his peers studied the plot during two lunch
sessions so they could follow the action.
"This should be
pretty good," Hopkins said just before the curtain went up. "I
watched 'Phantom of the Opera' and I guess it will be sort of
Douglas Nagel, ROC general director, said he
was impressed with the young audience.
"The kids really paid
attention," Nagel said. "They were pretty excited about being
The opera is set in Spain, sung in French, with
dialogue spoken in English. The ROC last performed it in 2002.
French students from Billings Senior High took in the
performance and some said they were able to interpret a few
words without looking up at the projected super titles above the
"It was pretty cool hearing them sing in French,"
said Nick Pelensky, a sophomore in French 2.
during the more recognizable melodies, including the "Toreador"
song performed by most of the 70-member chorus and Escamillo the
matador, played by baritone Christopher Holmes.
halfway through the first act, a toddler dashed out of his seat
and leaned over the railing to watch the 30-piece orchestra
performing in the pit below the main floor of the ABT. His mom
grabbed him before he fell onto the musicians. Unfazed, music
conductor Andy Anderson kept his wand waving and his face
smiling throughout the three-hour performance.
BOB ZELLAR/Gazette Staff
Jeffrey Grant Kitto, as Don Jose'
and Heidi Rae, as Carmen sing a duet in Rimrock Opera Company's
Carmen at the Alberta Bair Theatre.
BOB ZELLAR/Gazette Staff
Rimrock Opera Company's Carmen at
the Alberta Bair Theatre.
Rimrock Opera Company. All rights