Georges Bizet’s Carmenis perhaps the world’s most popular opera with more familiar tunes than any other. And as such, it was perhaps the perfect choice for State Opera’s premiere outdoor staged performance – and one, no doubt inspired by Artistic Director Stuart Maunder’s invaluable experience with Opera Australia and its Operas on the Harbour. Carmenis an opera loved by both specialist and dilettante alike – a celebration as it were of grand passion and obsession for a woman who ultimately cannot be tamed.

Helen Sherman. All photos © Soda Street Productions

Playing before a sold-out crowd of 5,000, the performance was aided and abetted by a production which was very much down to basics. Staging was simple, reduced to a pair of scaffold-like structures which became the cigarette factory, the stalls at the bull-ring and indeed the ramparts of Seville itself. Costuming was similarly basic but generally effective given the small amount of funding available. Lighting worked well though at times it appeared that the orchestra was over lit to the disadvantage of the singers and perhaps a few more brightly lit scenes in hot primary colours would have added...