Carmen: how an iconic opera is adapted into a graphic novel

150 years after its original debut, it’s safe to say that Georges Bizet’s Carmen is one of the most well-known and beloved operas in the world. Now the Arizona Opera is spearheading an ambitious attempt to translate this tale of jealousy and seduction into a graphic novel.

Carmen: The Graphic Novel is written by opera singer and director Alex Shrader. The book also features illustrations by P. Craig Russell, whose earlier work on adaptations of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Strauss’s Salome and Wagner’s Ring cycle makes him arguably the leading authority on the combination of opera and comics. Russell will provide layouts for the graphic novel, with Aneke (Catwoman) handling the finished pencils, inks and colors. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Red Sonja) writes the book.

Check out the slideshow gallery below for an exclusive look at Carmen: The Graphic Novel:

Like the source material, Carmen: The Graphic Novel is set in 1830s Seville and centers on the treacherous Don José. José is lured away from his life as a soldier and his lover Micaëla after meeting the titular Carmen. José’s infatuation with Carmen turns to jealousy when she chooses a bullfighter named Escamillo over her, culminating in a tragic confrontation outside a bullfight ring.

“I chose CARMEN for three reasons,” Shrader told IGN. “On the one hand, it’s probably the most popular opera of all time (and there weren’t any adaptations available, unlike Wagner’s The Ring, for example). Plus, I love the music – it’s melodic, dramatic and evocative… it’s iconic.”

Shrader continues: “Well, I was attracted to CARMEN because I hate José. Yes, I hate him. He’s got it all wrong with men: self-centered, privileged, living without consequences. taken, then his life… The story remains relevant to say the least, and that means it is a story that we must continue to tell.

Carmen: The Graphic Novel is currently funded through Kickstarter. In addition to the 90-page graphic novel, some levels will include art prints from a number of other popular comic book creators. Colleen Doran, Erica Henderson and Marguerite Sauvage will offer their thoughts on Carmen, while three other artists will provide prints inspired by other operas performed during Arizona Opera’s 2022 season – Ariadne auf Naxos by Natscha Bustos, Tosca by Erica d ‘Urso and Marissa Louise and The Magic Flute by Ana Mirallès.

In other comic book news, The Batman is getting a comic book prequel called Riddler: Year One, and it’s written by Paul Dano himself. We also have a full breakdown of Marvel’s cosmic hero Nova, who is set to head to the MCU soon.

Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by follow @jschedeen on Twitter.

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