Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 3:56 am | Fair 39º


State Street Ballet Dances a Hot ‘Carmen’

The updated “Carmen” opened the State Street Ballet’s season with two full-house performances.


{mosimage}Carmen, that enduring Gypsy seductress, danced to her doom once again on the stage of the Lobero Theatre, as State Street Ballet presented an updated and thrilling version by choreographer William Soleau.

Soleau originally made “Carmen” on the State Street company several years ago, part of his ongoing relationship with the Santa Barbara troupe that has produced a number of successes. They include “Starry Night,” an evocation of the van Gogh painting, and “Cityscape,” a touching tribute to New York and its people after 9/11.  

The updated “Carmen” opened the State Street Ballet’s season with two full-house performances, on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Artistic Director Rodney Gustafson was on hand after Sunday’s performance to accept congratulations from several members of the enthusiastic audience as they left the auditorium.

Leslie Drake danced the lead role, limning a sinuous and (overly) confident Carmen, who blithely jilted Ryan Camou’s lovesick Don Jose for the swaggering bullfighter, Escamillo. Enton Hoxha, a veteran of Albanian and Russian dance companies, was electric as the triumphant toreador.

Another exotic import was Mongolian-born Bayaraa Badamsambuu, an alumnus of Russia’s top-flight Perm Choreographic Academy. He was a vivid presence as Guard Captain Zuniga, Don Jose’s nemesis. Allyson Mattoon, who has been with State Street Ballet since 2000, was an appealing Micaela. Mercedes, Carmen’s Gypsy friend whose role it is to warn her of impending doom, was beautifully danced by Sarah Fuhrman.

Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen” has remained a fixture of the musical stage since it burst upon the scene in Paris in 1875. Despite, or perhaps because of, its shock value to audiences of the day, it has captured the imagination of opera lovers and, subsequently, balletomanes ever since.

The music for the State Street version was arranged by Rodion Shchedrin, well known in his native Russia as a composer. He graduated from the Moscow Conservatory and has received a number of international accolades. His “Carmen” is faithful to Bizet’s original score, but includes some more contemporary instrumental additions that enhanced the score’s searing climax.

The company will take “Carmen” on tour, including to China. The Gypsy jade will undoubtedly work her magic on that audience as well.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >