A summer night in the arms of Carmen
TEXT: SIGNE HANSEN | PHOTOS © MIKAL SCHLOSSER | ULRIK JANTZEN
Surrounded by soft hills and with the darkening summer sky above it, Opera Hedeland has become one of Denmark’s most popular opera venues. This summer, the large amphitheatre is staging Carmen, a beautiful performance perfectly suited to the stage’s natural backdrop.
Staging its first performance in 2002, Opera Hedeland has enchanted more than 130,000 guests with its spellbinding combination of world-class opera performances, picnics and open-air summer magic. Every year, approximately 10,000 people attend the opera’s three performances, making it one of the largest operas in Denmark in terms of visitor numbers. The audience includes a remarkably high number of first-time opera-goers attracted by the informal set-up. This, and the opera’s distinct setting, is why director of the opera, Claus Lynge, is especially looking forward to this year’s production of Carmen. “We’ve chosen to stage Carmen again [the opera was first produced by Opera Hedeland in 2007) because it’s a fantastic opera in its own right, but also because the space we have complements it perfectly; the nature and the lake – it’s the perfect backdrop,” he says. “But we’re also staging it because Carmen is a beautiful introduction to opera for someone who has never experienced it before.”
The performance will be directed by Norwegian Runar Hodne and the role of Carmen sung by Danish Andrea Pellegrini. Hodne was also behind Opera Hedeland’s production of La Sonnambula, which was named Opera of the Year in Denmark in 2016.
To make the most of the changing light of the Danish summer night, the performances start at 8pm, but the grounds open as early as 5pm. “The set-up is very informal. People arrive two or three hours early to picnic with friends, family or colleagues,” explains Lynge. “It’s like one big celebration – being surrounded by nature, watching this kind of performance alongside 3,000 other guests is a fabulous experience, especially when shared.”