Carmen Singer of the World Conference

The international public conference Carmen Singer of the World will be held in collaboration with and as part of the fringe events of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, at Cardiff University, 14-16 June 2017. The conference will bring together a group of eighteen academics from across Europe, Australia and the Americas to focus on processes of cultural exchange, and how the most widely performed opera globally – Carmen – was first performed, produced, disseminated, appropriated and received worldwide. Each day will also comprise an open-access public lunchtime event or workshop.

Conference Attendance and booking:

Attendance of the geographically themed academic conference sessions can be booked via ticketsource at the following costs (plus a booking fee) which include a conference programme, teas/coffees, but no lunches, dinners or competition tickets:

– £30: full conference – two and a half days
– £25: two days – Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 June
– £15: single day – specify either Wednesday 14 or Thursday 15 June

See the full conference schedule.

Additional Lunchtime Sessions

Wednesday 14 June 2017, 1pm-2pm:
Annabel Arden, ‘Speech and song: exploring the mixed form of Carmen’.

Annabel Arden whose first production of Carmen opens at the Grange Festival in June 2017, explores a selection of the dialogue and ensemble scenes of the opera with a cast of student singers and professional actors, Aïcha Kossoko and Tonderai Munyevu, from her production, giving academics and the audience an overview of her intellectual and artistic processes.


Thursday 15 June 2017, 1.15-2pm: In conversation with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

Dame Kiri recounts her experiences of Carmen, having sung both the title role and that of Micaëla in the course of her prestigious career.



All correspondence regarding the conference and workshops only (NOT other BBC Cardiff Singer of the World fringe events) should be sent to

For information and booking for all main programme BBC Cardiff Singer of the World events, please visit or


Carmen Singer of the World is a local collaboration, building on established partnerships with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Welsh National Opera (who collaborate with the BBC for Cardiff Singer of the World), to create a truly international, highly prestigious event which, for the first time, will incorporate an academic element.

In addition, partnership extends to both academic and music publishers, as the conference will result in the multi-author book Carmen Abroad co-edited by Dr Clair Rowden (Cardiff University) and Prof. Richard Langham Smith (Royal College of Music). The edited volume will be supplemented by an open-access website of archival materials (both written and visual) and new resources – including video clips of professional practices. Both Langham Smith and Rowden recently published a new vocal score of Carmen with Edition Peters who will be sponsoring the participants in the conference and workshop.

Academic rationale

By focusing in detail on a broad range of Carmen’s early performances, Carmen Singer of the World will reveal processes of cultural exchange and the ways in which the opera spoke, and continues to speak to global audiences. The main focus will be on stagings before 1900, but in countries where it was premiered later and the geo-political and artistico-historical circumstances of the premiere are significant, later stagings will be considered also.

Its performances stretch over a period which began with prescribed stagings to one where directors re-interpreted and largely appropriated and adapted the materials, cutting and adding to both dialogue and musical numbers. Already major differences of emphasis in different countries have been identified: early Parisian Opéra-Comique revivals took great pains in their portrayal of the Andalusian setting (Seville in particular), faithfully representing its edifices in the sets, and creating authentic costumes of different ranks for the soldiers. On the other hand, touring American stagings needed to restore a moral sense of order by having Carmen attempt the first blow on Don José, thus legitimising his murder of her as self-defence.

While today we are accustomed to the globalization of opera—with co-productions between theatres in distant geographical locations, international recording artists, simulcasts etc.—it is easy to forget that an opera’s original performance and reception abroad was also subject to the circuits and routes of an increasingly international opera business. Travelling singers, musicians, productions and managers were also subject to local contingencies when mounting an opera whose reception was the product of a particular press, musical and literary culture. Carmen Singer of the World will reveal, therefore, the two-way process of cultural exchange between audiences and performers of Carmen. The aim is to uncover its global performance history, and contribute towards an understanding of why its storyline has become internationally embedded, and its music so popular.

Carmen Singer of the World is sponsored by a Cardiff University International Initiatives grant, Music & Letters Trust and Edition Peters.

Edition Peters musicandletters - blue

Other BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Fringe events held in collaboration with Cardiff University School of Music:

Opera Films at Chapter Arts Centre

Dr Carlo Cenciarelli will be introducing a season of opera-related films screened at Chapter Arts Centre, Market Road, Canton, Tel: 029 2030 4400.


Screenings include the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera (1951), Amadeus (1984), M Butterfly (1993), the deliciously biting satire on opera in a united Europe Meeting Venus (1991), the French stylish and atmospheric thriller Diva (1981), and Italian director Francesco Rosi’s realist film version of Carmen (1984), starring Julia Migenes-Johnson, Placido Domingo, and Ruggero Raimondi.