The Cuban National Ballet performs Carmen in Abu Dhabi

The Cultural Foundation auditorium played host to Bizet’s famed story of defiance and freedom

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The Cuban National Ballet staged a rendition of Carmen in Abu Dhabi on Friday night, bringing Georges Bizet's rousing story of defiance and freedom to the UAE capital.

Held at the Cultural Foundation auditorium, the performance was a part of Abu Dhabi Classics, a curated collection of classical concerts and musical performances organised by Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi. In addition to dance, it includes world-renowned orchestras and soloists, as well as celebrated artists from the Arab world.

The Cuban National Ballet performs a scene from Carmen. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Created by Roland Petit and his company Les Ballets de Paris, Carmen was first performed at London’s Prince Theatre in 1949, and has since become a standing feature in the repertoire of leading ballet companies around the world.

Based on the opera by Bizet and set over five scenes, it tells the story of the beautiful and sensual Carmen, who gets into a fight that leads to her arrest. In the process, she captures the heart of Don Jose, an army corporal who leaves his job to join her world. But Carmen quickly tires of Don Jose’s possessiveness and turns her attention to the dashing toreador Escamillo. Don Jose’s jealousy erupts into violence, permanently altering the fate of the main characters.

The performance combines classical ballet, Spanish-inspired choreography, mime and other non-traditional dance forms. The Cuban National Ballet artfully captured the contradictions between Carmen’s rebellious nature and the forces of her time.

This season of Abu Dhabi Classics will continue with a gala concert by The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at Emirates Palace Auditorium on December 20, and the "African Pianism" recital by Rebeca Omordia, featuring works by composers from West Africa, South Africa and North Africa, on January 20 at the Cultural Foundation auditorium.

Updated: November 26, 2022, 7:55 AM