Scott Skiba is the Artistic Director of Cleveland Opera Theater, where he has directed critically acclaimed productions of Tosca, La Rondine, Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica, La Boheme, Il Tabarro, Pagliacci, Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore, Il Segreto di Susanna, and the Cleveland premiere of the new vampire opera Clarimonde. Mr. Skiba has led more than 50 new operatic productions and continues to garner attention and praise for his innovative stage direction and clear storytelling. In addition to his work with Cleveland Opera Theatre, Scott also serves as the Executive Director of the Oberlin in Italy opera program in Arezzo, Italy. He was also recently appointed as the new Director of Opera Studies at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music.
Jon Simsic made his debut with Opera Western Reserve by providing the first-act children's' chorus and playing the role of the Sacristan in "Tosca." He is Artistic Director of the Salem Youth Chorus and Organist/Choir Master at St. Joseph’s Church in Canton. Jon was the Artistic Director of Youth Music and Theater for the Salem Community Theater from 2005-2010. Jon’s conducting credits at YSU include productions of The Tender Land and The Mikado. Jon also served as a conductor for Valley Lyric Opera where he conducted performances of La Boheme, Il Trovatore, Cavalleria Rusticana, Rigoletto, and Faust. From 1991-2000, Jon was the Assistant Conductor and Chorus Master of the Youngstown Symphony. Jon is also a composer and his setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for treble voices and organ will soon be released by Paraclete Press. Jon’s anthem Harvest Hymn for chorus and organ was the 2008 grand prize winner for the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) Choral Competition. Harvest Hymn was premiered at Salisbury Cathedral in England.
ACT I, Scene 1
A company of soldiers lounge at a street corner outside their post in Seville. The officer on guard, Morales, tries to flirt with Micaela, a shy young country girl who has come to ask for the brigadier Don Jose, but the girl retreats. Followed by a squad of urchins, the relief guard marches in, among them Don Jose. The cigarette girls saunter back to their factory. Carmen, a gypsy, appears last and is surrounded by her admirers, to whom she sings of the fickleness of love. Piqued by the indifference of Don Jose, she throws a Rower in his face and then retires with her companions to the factory. Micaela returns to give Jose a message of affection from his mother. When she modestly withdraws, Jose vows to marry her as his mother has wished. Suddenly there is an uproar in the cigarette factory and the girls pour out, crying that Carmen has wounded a fellow-worker. Brought before Zunig-a, Don Jose's captain, the gypsy defiantly resists arrest. She induces Jose to loosen her bonds by promising him a rendezvous; as the soldiers lead her to prison she breaks away.
ACT I, Scene 2
In Lillas Pastia's tavern outside the walls of Seville, Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercedes describe the joys of gypsy life. The toreador Esca- millo arrives with a party and recounts his adventures in the bullring; he is soon enammored of Carmen. All leave except the gypsy, who are persuaded by the smugglers Remendado and Dancairo to join them on a mountain expedition. Don Jose hurries in, free at last from the guardhouse where he has been disciplined for letting Carmen escape. She dances for him, but when retreat sounds and Jose prepares to return to camp she is furious. He clings feebly to his military loyalties but protests his passion, showing her the flower she once threw him, which he has kept. Carmen insists that if he loved her he would follow her to the mountains. Jose refuses to desert, but when Zuniga enters and orders him back to the barracks he disobeys. The two men are about to fight when the gypsies rush in and disarm Zuniga, forcing Don Jose to throw in his lot with them.
ACT II, Scene 1
The smugglers and gypsies pause in a mountain pass. Despite his shame Jose still adores Carmen, but she is tiring of him. Frasquita and Mercedes read their fortunes in the cards; when Carmen deals the pack she finds only death. As the smugglers carry their stolen goods away, the terrified Micaela approaches in search of Don Jose. She hides as Escamillo arrives, looking for Carmen. He and the jealous brigaadier speedily come to blows, but their duel is stopped by Carmen herself. The toreador leaves after issuing an invitation-to the bullfights in Seville, and the others are about to resume their march when Micaela is discovered. Jose agrees to go with her when she reveals that his mother is dying, but warns Carmen they will meet again.
ACT II, Scene 2
In a square back in Seville, the Sunday crowd gathers for the bullfight. Esca- millo arrives with Carmen and, certain of her affection, goes off to the contest. Carmen bravely meets Don Jose, who is lurking nearby. Though wretched and dishonored, he pleads with her to return to him, but her heart is elsewhere. When Escamillo's triumph echoes from the arena, Carmen rushes toward the entrance with a cry of delight. Maddened, Don Jose plunges his knife into her breast.