/  Repertoire  /  Carmen




  • 6th June 1996 by the Company Temps Présent at L’Opéra Théâtre de Saint-Etienne

Nouvelle Production

  • Malandain Ballet Biarritz 21st December 2008 in the Gare du Midi de Biarritz


  • Franz Schubert


  • Thierry Malandain

Décor et costumes

  • Jorge Gallardo

Conception lumières

  • Jean-Claude Asquié


  • Teatro de Sant Cugat, Opera Théâtre de Saint-Pierre, Grand Théâtre de Reims, L’Onde de Velizy Villacoublay, Teatro Victoria Eugenia de San Sebastian, Les Amis de Malandain Ballet Biarritz, Malandain Ballet Biarritz


  • for 16 dancers


  • 45 minutes

Note of intent

Carmen’s fate, although not originating in mythology, is nonetheless timeless. Her conflictual relationship with Don José recalls in many ways the conflict between Eros and Thanatos : Love and Death. Carmen, with her fiercely independent and insolent nature, rushes along like the heroines in classical tragedies towards an end that she knows to be fatal. In Prosper Merimee’s short story, the red thread of the ballet, she cultivates the paradox of « the obscure light». A solar woman as well as a lunar woman, she rejuvenates in the love she is seeking everywhere without any concession. She will pay for it with her life.
Thierry Malandain


Nearly 10 years before he created Don Juan, Thierry Malandain created his Carmen in 1996. And some Carmen it was : a charmer indeed, but a tough and engaging one. Like Don Juan she runs after love through love affairs, with the wind swirling around her skirt and hair, not letting go of her ever moving, ever changing desire, searching for her own mystery and like her masculine look-alike, she faces death bravely, still standing. Don José is no match for her, with his touching, unyielding love. Malandain, who appropriated Prosper Mérimée’s short story, shortened the anecdotes and minimized the characters in order to concentrate the action around the duet Carmen/Don José. The body language, already so recognizable in Malandain’s work with his wide and dynamic jumps, his elastic pliés, still bears the distant influence of Martha Graham that he will absorb in his own way later on. A clever system of movable panels enables the smooth changing of scenes and the double color of the set and its costumes, whether the bright yellow of love or the deep black of death, accentuates even more the confrontation of love and death.
Ballet 2000, Sonia Schoonejans • March - April 2009
With an acuate sense of dramaturgy and stagecraft, Thierry Malandain concentrates the action on that ritual of love and death that Prosper Mérimée imagined. But instead of using the red color when referring to destructive passion, he uses yellow instead, on a black background, naturally. Intense corps de ballet scenes interpreted by a flamboyant company alternate with sensuous and vigorous duets, first and foremost the one in the bedroom which is in no way less catching than Roland Petit’s legendary scene.
24 heures de Lausanne, Jean-Pierre Pastori • 24 January 2009
On the music of Death and the Maiden by Schubert, Ballet Biarritz gave a simple and sharp interpretation of Merimée’s short story. With an elegance of lines and a brilliant clarity which linked that drama about jealousy to a classical tragedy, the physical attraction drawing the two heroes to each other was called for in a duet vibrating with sensuality.
Danser, Isabelle Calabre • March 2009

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