Creating Carmen | SierraSun.com

Creating Carmen

Andrew CristanchoSierra Sun

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunTrudy Vella, dressed in her costume for the opera Carmen, practices her singing solo.

A local choral group will perform a sultry French opera with a Spanish name next Sunday in Truckee.Carmen, an opera by French composer Georges Bizet, premiered in the Opra Comique of Paris on March 3, 1875.On April 27, the Truckee Community Chorus will perform experts from the famous opera along with a large variety of choral pieces.Although legend has it that Carmen was a flop and caused the composers death three months after its premiere, the original offering enjoyed a 37-performance run and was more well-received than is traditionally thought, according to the Truckee choirs co-director Susan Horst.During the 2007-08 season, Carmen was one of the most frequently produced operas among North American companies, according to the Web site for a national service organization for opera, OPERA America.Not an opera company, but a choral group, the Truckee Community Chorus is new to the art form, said co-director Chris Nelson.But they wanted to it because, among other reasons, It is probably the most popular opera ever written, he said.The story of Carmen is a tragic love story of a wildly free Gypsy women who falls for a Spanish soldier, Don Jose. Where Carmen is uninhibited and lives in the moment, Don Joses life is structured. Carmen eventually woos the soldier but ultimately rejects him for the Matador Escamillo. Don Joses jealousy causes him to murder Carmen.Though the local chorus will not present the entire work, Horst and company will perform six popular excerpts from the opera including the famous Habanera song, Cigarette Girls, and the Toreador Song, among others, Horst said.Besides the opera pieces the chorus Sunday program will include songs from contemporary choral composer Morton Lauridsen, a love song called That I Ever Saw and The Battle of Jericho a gospel piece and a Welsh folk melody. Another departure from the groups traditional program, Nelson said, will be the performance of an African-flavored piece called Voice Dance III, by contemporary composer Greg Jasperse.The choir will be accompanied by a guest orchestra from the Diablo Valley College Philharmonic, Nelson said.Soprano Pam Moutinho, an x-ray technician who lives in Tahoe Vista, is excited about singing Carmens part. Although Nelson credits her as one of the choruss finest soloists, she has never sung professionally, is modest about her abilities and said the music is challenging. I am really quite honored to be part of [the Truckee Community Chorus], she said. There is a lot of demanding music [in the songs] as far as the range of notes and the changing rhythms.The Truckee chorus is now in its seventh season and is funded through ticket sales, Sierra Colleges Community Life Long Learning Institute and Sierra College at Truckee.Like its funding, the choral class is a hybrid of a community college course and an adult learning course both offered through Truckees Sierra College.