Past Event29 Mar - 1 Apr 2017

Carmen with L’Arlésienne

No longer available

ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre


Two landmark works of twentieth century dance, never before performed in New Zealand, are given their first performances by the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Combining explosive drama with high-voltage technique, these iconic works by French master-choreographer Roland Petit (1924 – 2011) will be a white-hot start to the 2017 season.


It is high summer in Provençe. On his wedding day, a young man is captivated, then obsessed, by an unknown, unseen woman – the ‘girl from Arles’. Consumed by his vision, he abandons his bride, losing his reason and ultimately, his life.

Drawing on Provençal folk music as well as original themes, Georges Bizet composed incidental music for the premiere of L’Arlésienne, a play by Alphonse Daudet, in 1872. While the play is now seldom performed, Bizet’s L’Arlésienne suites are frequently heard on the concert platform. Roland Petit’s intense one-act ballet, based on Daudet’s play, was created for the Ballet National de Marseille, the company founded by Petit, in 1974.


Who is Carmen? Temptress, free spirit, victim or villain, she lives and loves on her own terms. Whatever claims a man makes on her body, her heart and mind are her own.

Bizet’s opera based on Prosper Mérimée’s novella was first performed in Paris in 1875.  Its story and working class setting created a scandal, but Carmen is now one of the most popular works in the operatic canon, inspiring works in other genres, from musicals to notable ballets.

Roland Petit’s Carmen was created for Les Ballets de Paris. It premiered in London in 1949 with Petit’s wife, Zizi Jeanmaire in the title role and Petit himself as Don José, Carmen’s jealous lover. It has become Petit’s signature work, eagerly performed by dancers with a flair for drama.

Staged by: Luigi Bonino and Gillian Whittingham

Music: Georges Bizet

Set design: René Allio (L’Arlésienne)

Costume design: Christine Laurent (L’Arlésienne)

Set and costume design: Antoni Clavé (Carmen)

Lighting: Jean-Michel Désiré


See the show and so much more

Enhance your Royal New Zealand Ballet experience with pre- and post-show events.

  • Free pre-performance talk, Friday 31 March
  • Warm Up, Curtain Up before the show (by gold coin donation), Saturday 1 April: The Warm-up is before the evening performance only
  • Free post-performance Q&A immediately after the show, Saturday 1 April: The post show Q&A is after the matinee session only

Watch the trailer

Be the first to know about live events in Auckland!