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Dunoon’s own Moira Lewitt joins Aria Alba in Bizet’s opera CARMEN

Updated: 6 days ago

Flamenco dancer Moira Lewitt standing on Blairmore Pier, holding a red shawl in the breeze.
Photo by Sally Brown

Come to our open dress rehearsal at Ardentinny Outdoor Centre, Saturday 6th July at 6.30pm!

Aria Alba returns to Ardentinny with CARMEN. Atmospheric. Dramatic. A musical tour de force. And you’ll know loads of the tunes.

This year it’s feeling a bit different. Dunoon-based flamenco dancer, Moira Lewitt (also PhD, physician, researcher, and now Professor at the University of the West of Scotland by the way) adds a touch of sensuous sizzle! She is careful to tell us that the music in Carmen isn’t actually flamenco, but has a Spanish style. Whatever, it is good!

Everyone knows something of Carmen’s story. She is a fiery, magnetic seductress, who draws solder Don Jose into a turbulent love affair. He is dutiful, she is a free spirit. The opera tells the tale of their descent into a criminal underworld. It doesn’t end well.

Spoiler alert: he kills her and is hauled off to meet his own fate!

You’d think a community opera company would play it safe, but that has never been our style. It’s our first opera in French although there will be English explanations for the audience. It’s been great to have a French conductor and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) graduate, Suzanne Godet, volunteering with us for the first time this year. And we have a bunch of new members – it’s so interesting to introduce them to the magic of our residential week in Ardentinny.

The language and the music are stretching but it is a joy to see Jake Zualski’s concept emerging and the confidence of the singers building, supported, as ever by our lovely pianist, Max McWhirter, MMus, also an RCS alumnus.

Moira, Max and Suzanne in rehearsal.

Every year we arrive feeling like we have a mountain to climb, and every year by the Saturday evening we have the makings of our Fringe performances. It’s uncanny the way it works. Just being around each other for six days, 24 hours a day, cements relationships on the stage and off it. And if it has rained a bit this year, well, at least we have those wonderful views around us as we rehearse.

Peter and his team in Ardentinny couldn’t be more welcoming and nothing is too much trouble for them as we scavenge for props. This year we’ve purloined a checkerboard for our dancer’s formidable clacking and stamping, and a climbing rope – yeah, I’ll let you find out what that’s for!

And the flamenco! The moment Moira takes the stage in the overture, the spirit of Carmen is evoked. Her smouldering interpretation is captivating. It’s hard to take your eyes off her as she stamps and turns, her fringed shawl writhing around her, adding even more drama, as if that were possible. Threaded through the opera, she acts as a kind of ghostly presence, amplifying the action and supporting the story!

We're welcoming those local to Dunoon to experience our open rehearsal for Carmen free of charge (although, optional donations to Aria Alba -Opera for All would be greatly appreciated!). No need to get a ticket, just show up at the Ardentinny Outdoor Centre for 6.30pm on Saturday 6th July! We're so excited to show off all our hard work!

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