Carlos Acosta’s Carmen premieres at Sadler's Wells this July

Carlos Acosta’s Carmen premieres at Sadler’s Wells this July

Sadler’s Wells International Associate Company Acosta Danza presents the UK premiere of Carlos Acosta’s Carmen at Sadler’s Wells Theatre from Tuesday 2 to Saturday 6 July 2024.

Carlos Acosta performs in his adaptation of Georges Bizet’s opera, 179 years after Prosper Mérimée’s eponymous story was first published. Don José falls in love with Carmen and sacrifices everything to be with her. When Carmen becomes infatuated with the toreador Escamillo, she loses interest in Don José, whose love quickly turns to murderous jealousy.

Acosta plays The Bull, a role he created to represent fate and destiny, which he has been keen to perform since choreographing the piece to mark his retirement from the Royal Ballet. His new version retains the story’s universal and timeless themes in a stripped back setting.

Carlos Acosta invites three Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers; Yaoqian Shang, Javier Rojas and Lachlan Monaghan to guest perform the parts of Carmen, Don José and Escamillo alongside Acosta Danza Principal dancers Laura Rodriguez, Enrique Corrales and Alejandro Silva.

Leading dance figures as diverse as choreographers Marius Petipa, Roland Petit, Alberto Alonso, Mats Ek and Richard Alston have all been drawn to this tale of a woman’s overt sexuality and her violent death.

The melodies of Bizet’s Carmen have secured the opera’s hold on the popular imagination – Escamillo’s ‘Toreador Song’, Carmen’s ‘Habanera’, Don José’s ‘Flower Song’ and many passages for orchestra and chorus are among the most widely known pieces of Western classical music.

Carlos Acosta was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1973. After a late but dazzling start in ballet at the age of 9, he became English National Ballet’s youngest ever principal dancer, at 18. He joined the Royal Ballet in London in 1998, where he became an audience favourite. He was awarded a CBE for his contribution to dance in 2014 and retired from classical ballet two years later. In 2015, he also founded his company, Acosta Danza, and has been the director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet since 2020.

Carmen is part of Sadler’s Wells year-round Ballet with attitude programme.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Director Carlos Acosta said: “I am very grateful to Sadler’s Wells for the opportunity to present my Carmen as a full length for the very first time. For this occasion, I will be dancing The Bull, a small but very powerful role which represents destiny the master of ceremonies of everyone’s future. I wanted to create a version that feels classical and contemporary at the same time without attaching itself into a specific period. Stripping the narrative of this brilliant story to its very bones.

“I am also very pleased to be working again with Tim Hatley (who created the designs for the original version I choreographed for the Royal Ballet) on some exciting new designs for the production and Nina Dunn who has developed some new projection to help create the atmospheric setting I wanted to convey.” 

Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Co-Chief Executive, Sir Alistair Spalding CBEsaid: I’m delighted to be bringing back Carlos’s company Acosta Danza to Sadler’s Wells following our longstanding support for his mission to bring the best and most talented dancers from his Cuban homeland to London and around the world. It’s an added pleasure that this is the full-length version premiere of his own choreography. I’m personally eager to see Carlos dance in a new expanded role that he has been waiting to play for almost a decade!”

Ticket’s to Carlos Acosta’s Carmen are available now from £15. Book now.