Opera 'Carmen' gets new ending to stop violence against women

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - After more than 140 years of being stabbed to death on stage, the gypsy heroine of the opera “Carmen” gets her own revenge in a new Italian production - shooting her thwarted lover instead.

FILE PHOTO - Tamara Rojo of the Royal Ballet performs in a production of "Carmen" at the Royal Opera House in London January 30, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The globally popular opera by French composer Georges Bizet, that held its premiere in 1875, will have a new ending when it opens on Jan. 7 in Florence to highlight the ongoing battle to stop violence against women in Italy.

In the latest version, written by Italian director Leo Muscato, the flirtatious, fiery Carmen no longer dies at the hand of her rejected lover Don Jose whom she has abandoned for a bullfighter but pulls a gun on him.

The head of Florence’s Teatro del Maggio Musicale Foundation, Cristiano Chiarot, said he discussed changing the opera with Muscato to give it a more modern ending.

“At a time when our society is having to confront the murder of women, how can we dare to applaud the killing of a woman?” Chiarot, who took up the role last year, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.

Italian National Institute of Statistics figures show one in three Italian women aged 16-70 experienced physical or sexual violence in 2014 while 149 women were murdered in 2016, half of whom were killed by partners or ex-partners.

The United Nations in 2012 said violence against women remained a “significant problem in Italy” and called domestic abuse “the most pervasive form of violence in Italy”.

The government has since adopted tougher laws to crackdown on violence against women but violence against women remains pervasive amid a culture of patriarchy, Chiarot said.

“(Our opera) is an attempt to highlight the modern-day abuse and mistreatment of women in Italy where femicide is not an uncommon occurrence,” Chiarot added.

Paolo Antonio Klun, a spokesman from the Maggio, said the new “Carmen” was taking a stand when there is so much violence against women as theater had a social role to fulfill.

“The theater must have an ethical and social function. It must transmit a message against violence,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation