Book Tickets

Opera South East presents Carmen by Georges Bizet

With the Sussex Concert Orchestra

White Rock Theatre, Hastings

Fri 21 and Sat 22 April 2023, 7.30pm

WR: Carmen - Opera South East (21-22 Apr 2023)

Director: Eleanor Strutt
Conductor: Kenneth Roberts
Pre-show talk in the auditiorium on Sat 22 April: 6.00-6.20pm

Passion turns to jealousy. Hope turns to despair. Order turns to anarchy. Beneath the blazing sun a bull is slaughtered for sport, as outside the arena a woman lies dead, murdered by her jealous lover.

Desire and brutality dance hand in hand in this spectacular full-scale production. With its dramatic plot and thrilling score, Carmen is probably the most popular opera in the world.

Carmen: a woman ablaze with passion, surrounded by men possessed by obsession and jealousy, sets herself on a road to tragedy when she meets Don José, who is searching for a purpose in life.

Director Eleanor Strutt brings a modern sensibility to this production which is set in 1820s Seville. Our Carmen is a woman who transcends her circumstances – she is passionate about taking control of her life and her choices. Carmen’s music is unpredictable, challenging and captivating, so too is her character.

When the cards predict her impending death, she recognises that her fate is bound to Don José’s, and yet she seeks to confront him outside the bullring. Carmen makes no attempt to escape; it is as if she is hurrying along her fate, choosing her moment to die, staying in command to the end.

So, while Don José is unhinged and carrying a knife, does he actually murder her? Or does Carmen manipulate him to fulfil the cards’ prediction? And by doing so, does she also set up his death knowing that he will be executed for her murder? In the end, neither can survive without the other. This is a love that cannot be tamed.

It’s a poignant year for Kenneth Roberts who conducts his final piece for Opera South East before he retires as their conductor and musical director later this year.

It seems a particularly appropriate piece for my ‘swan-song’ as it was the first full-scale opera I conducted at the White Rock in 1983 – 40 years ago! Kenneth Roberts, Conductor

Eleanor Strutt, Director

Director Eleanor Strutt makes her debut with Opera South East and comes highly regarded having directed an acclaimed and powerful production of Becoming Carmen for Prologue Opera at The Stables Theatre in Hastings last November.
Eleanor graduated with a first in Music from King’s College London, and a distinction for her MMus in Vocal Performance at Trinity Laban, studying with Joan Rodgers, Alison Wells, and Robert Bottreil.

Deirdre Arratoon playing Carmen

Opera South East are delighted to welcome a number of new principal artists, including the rising Irish mezzo-soprano, Deirdre Arratoon, taking on the role of Carmen
Known for a voice that is ‘rich, velvety and full of expression’, Deirdre feels lucky to perform regularly in both the UK and Ireland. She was delighted to make her main stage debut at Wexford Festival Opera 2022 as Fairy in Alma Deutscher’s Cinderella. Another highlight of 2022 was performing the mezzo-soprano solos in Verdi’s Requiem at Arundel Cathedral. Future roles for 2023 include the Grange Festival Opera performing chorus and covering for the role of Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte. Deirdre will tour with Opera Collective Ireland, as ‘Older Woman’ in Jonathan Dove’s Flight and later in the year she will appear in Wexford Festival Opera’s 2023 season as Isabella in Rossini’s L'italiana in Algeri.

I’ve seen The Mikado several times but I think this was the best for characterisation and character. Audience review for The Mikado by Opera South East in 2022


Carmen: Deirdre Arratoon
Don José, Corporal of Dragoons: Matthew Scott Clark
Escamillo, a toreador: Jon Openshaw
Micaëlaa village maiden: Helen Bailey
Zuniga, Captain of Dragoons: Oscar Smith
Dancaïro, a smuggler: Joe Edmunds
Remendado, a smuggler: Kristian Thorkildsen
Mercédès, companion of Carmen: Rebecca Hughes
Frasquita, companion of Carmen: Becca Mitchell
Moralès, Corporal of Dragoons: Will O’Brien
Street Urchins: HPO Songbirds
And members of the Opera South East Chorus.

Tickets: £13 - £21
Concessions: £10 - £19
Under 16s: Free


Band A: £21
Band B: £17
Band C: £13

White Rock Friends: £2 off
Groups (8+): £3 off
Under 16s: Free