Called the "leading tenor of his generation," Brooklyn-born Neil Shicoff will sing Don Jose in the upcoming Israel Opera production of Bizet's perdurable Carmen, opening at the Opera House in Tel Aviv on May 25. His Carmen will be mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham, who sung the role to acclaim all over the opera world. (You can listen to and watch them both on-line.)
The production itself was originally designed and directed by Franco Zeffirelli for New York's Metropolitan Opera, and is therefore a spectacular with a cast of hundreds. The revival is directed by Knighten Smit, and conducting the Israel Symphony Orchestra-Rishon Lezion is Emmanuel Joel-Hornak, alternating with Yishai Shteckler.
The resounding failure of Carmen at its premiere in March 1875 is said to have hastened Bizet's death only three months later. Today the story of the soldier, the sensual temptress from the cigarette factory and the toreador has been told over and over in opera, film and dance, not least in Peter Brook's version from 1983.