Tavora's spectacle of dance and music offers a radical challenge to Bizet's famous opera, which was based on the novel by Prosper Merimee. Rather than the traditional romanticised version, Tavora presents Carmen as a woman of great character whose fight for women's rights made her a symbol of daring and dignity.
Based on stories told to him by his great-great-great grandmother - herself a cigarette worker in 19th-century Seville - Tavora's production combines Andalusian music and dance to tell the story of Carmen de Triana. The gypsy heroine of exploited factory workers, Carmen had been a real-life friend of Tavora's ancestor.
Born in Seville, Tavora grew up in a working class family during the difficult era following the Spanish Civil War. He worked as a bullfighter and flamenco singer before, in 1971, he created La Cuadra de sevilla in an attempt to counter what he saw as a dilution of Andalusian culture. Since then, Tavora's company has produced more than a dozen shows, seen at more than 150 festivals in 36 countries, with each reflecting the social issues and cultural traditions of his native land.
Carmen is performed by a company of more than 30 singers, flamenco dancers and Andalusian musicians. They share the stage with a white stallion, which has won its own individual raves for its dancing prowess.
- by Terri Paddock