After the cancellation of Opera Australia’s national touring schedule in COVID-crippling 2020, the company’s latest production of Georges Bizet’s  Carmen opened at Dandenong’s Drum Theatre on Friday evening to begin its journey across all states and territories until the end of August – circumstances permitting. It’s a handsome looking production that more than satisfies the demands of a travelling outfit on its way to in excess of 30 cities. And director and choreographer Matthew Barclay’s evocative mid-20th century transposition is a revving good fit, energetically choreographed and complimented by a strong, versatile cast.

Angela Hogan in Opera Australia's Carmen Angela Hogan in Opera Australia’s  Carmen. Photo © Jeff Busby

Bizet never lived to see the international success  Carmen was to become. The opera’s 1875 premiere season met with a lukewarm reception for a titular character anything but. One of the most iconic women of opera, Carmen is a controversial and confronting handful. She is a Gypsy outcast, unglamorous and unruly but gets what she wants through her power of seduction. Love is free to share with any man of her choosing and freedom is...