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Kirstin Chavez returns to Las Cruces with one-woman “Carmen” performance

Leora Zeitlin

Mezzo-soprano Kirstin Chavez has been called “the Carmen of a lifetime,” and has performed the renowned opera by Georges Bizet in some 40 different productions worldwide. This weekend, she returns to Las Cruces to present her one-woman dramatic concert version, which intersperses Bizet’s music with original monologues that offer new insights into the famously fiery character. Chavez said she hopes “to set the record straight” about Carmen, who frequently is portrayed as a mean, even vulgar, woman of questionable morals. “She’s a strong woman, someone who knows herself extremely well… She’s extremely popular in her community,” she told Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin in this interview at KRWG. “It’s like she’s at peace and really feeling the joie de vivre that we all wish we could feel.”

Chavez worked with director Johnathan Pape and flamenco choreographer Sol Koeraus “La Argentinita” to create the almost hour-long work, which premiered with piano accompaniment in the U.K. in June. Her performance with the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lonnie Klein, marks the work’s debut with symphony orchestra. Chavez, a native of Albuquerque who grew up in Malaysia, is an alumna of New Mexico State University and the Eastman School of Music, and has strong ties to Las Cruces. “It means so much to me to being doing it with the Las Cruces Symphony, my ‘home’ orchestra,” she said. In this interview, she discusses how this new version of Carmen came to be, her own background, and the relevancy of Carmen today.

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