Music ReviewsOperaREVIEWSTom Williams

La Tragedie de Carmen

An adaptation of the Bizet operacube ensemble

Music Directors; Emily Barrett & Colin Dejong

Stage Director Reshmi Hazra

Produced by The Cube Ensemble

At The Den, Chicago

Engaging adaptation of Bizet’s opera has merit

Cube Ensemble’s first full music production is a bold 90 minute scaled down adaptation of Georges Bizet’s 1875 La Tragedie de Carmen is an efficient affair featuring music from a stand-up piano that produced a unique sound for an opera. This intimate opera is staged in a small studio space at The Den in Bucktown. Sung in French without super titles, best to read the “Director’s Notes’ in the program to get a feel for the story. I must say that the staging does allow for us to understand both the action and the motivation of the opera.

cube ensemble

The story, of course, is about a seductress, Carmen (Hope Littwin), a gypsy who is stuck in a role that finds women with no power over their destiny.  She’ll use her sensual powers to escape her dreadful life. Don Jose (Camilo Rasquin), a jealous violent soldier, could be her man but when the famous toreador Escamillo (Brad Jungwirth) after a long absence to claim Carmen the conflict for her hand explodes.

This 90 minute adaptation contains both of the famous arias: the haunting Habanera and the well-know march: the toreador song. While the piano could play a tad softer, Camilo Rasquin, as Don Jose and Hope Littwin, as Carmen need to sing louder and project stronger so they are not being drowned out by a piano in The Den’s small space. But Allison Cook , as Garcia (and others) and Brad Jungwirth, as Escamillo belted with vigor and intensity. Rasquin and Littwin would sound fine if they can be heard.

I must say that for $35 and  $10 student  and $15 industry tickets , this is a worthy glimpse into the magical world of opera. This 90 minute, well sung production, is a worth seeing.


Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: March 28, 2014

Fir more info checkout the Carmen page at

At The Den, 1333 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL, tickets $235, $15, $10, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30 pm Sundays at 3 pm, special industry performance on Monday, April 7 at 7:30 pm, running time is 90 minutes with no intermission or late seating, through April 13, 2014

Leave a Reply