- Solo Flight Brown Ale with cinnamon sticks. (Photo by Courtney Mihocik)
On the heels of ushering in new executive director Beth Hansen, Opera Carolina has decided to celebrate its “She Season” of female-character-driven operas with a partnership with Bold Missy Brewery, a female-owned brewery in NoDa.
Opera Carolina is a regional opera company that was founded by the Charlotte Music Club in 1948. Over the past 70 years, the club evolved into Opera Carolina, with over 90 percent of the theater company living and working in the region.
For the 2018-2019 season, the organization has chosen three female-centric operas to perform: The Daughter of the Regiment, Eugene Onegin and Carmen.
This year, to further celebrate the strong women in opera and the inspiring female characters of the season’s performances, Opera Carolina and Bold Missy Brewery have designed and begun brewing a cinnamon-infused craft beer called Carmen Get It!, named after the bold, titular main character of the famous opera Carmen.
Carli Smith, head brewer at Bold Missy, decided to use one of the core beers in the brewery's flagship lineup and add a twist to it by infusing the brown ale with cinnamon sticks.
“The brown is the perfect beer to do it in because it’s got a lot of caramel and roasted malts in it and this date, raisin, nutty characteristic to it, which will go really well with the cinnamon,” Smith said.
- (From left) Owner Carol Waggener, brewmaster Carli Smith and Opera Carolina marketing manager Stephanie Vitale.
And the beer also reflects the bold and spicy character of Carmen herself.
“One of her strongest characteristics is that she’s bold,” said Opera Carolina marketing manager Stephanie Vitale. “She sets her own path, she does what she wants, she doesn’t let anyone define her dream.”
This brew isn’t just a cinnamon flavor for fall, however. Think Red Hots candy and the fiery cinnamon profile that comes through when you chew it, and you can imagine the flavor profile of Carmen Get It!
Mixed with the apt base flavors of caramel and roasted malts in the Solo Flight brown ale — named after Amelia Earhart — and you have an in-your-face spicy craft beer that represents Opera Carolina's She Season.
The female-forward operas place women at the forefront of the story who are individually strong and in their own ways.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
In The Daughter of the Regiment, Marie was adopted by a regiment of French soldiers after being found on the battlefield as a baby, and was raised in the military with them. When it comes time for her to learn to be a “proper lady" and be married off to a lord, she foregoes what society expects of her and determines her own future.
Tatyana of Eugene Onegin was in love with the title character, who did not reciprocate the same feelings. Years down the road, when she is married to a prince, Onegin returns to declare his passionate love for her. Instead of following her heart, she follows her moral code and preserves the sanctity of the commitment she made to her husband.
For her part, Carmen is a bold and beguiling character that garnered the adoration of many men, most importantly José. After deserting his fellow soldiers, they run away with a band of smugglers together until he is called back home by the illness of his mother just as a bullfighting champion is professing his own infatuation with Carmen. Later in the opera, she and the bullfighter are in love and she is attending one of his fights when José returns and begs for Carmen’s love again. After she refuses his advances, he kills her in an act of jealousy and passion.
“Each of these characters are strong in a different way,” Vitale said. “And when you’re thinking of Carmen, think [about] the tagline: not all heroines are tragic.”
Vitale continued to state that even though Carmen is the only opera in the season’s line up in which the main character dies, that’s not a reason to believe her story to be tragic nor the character to be seen as weak.
- Carmen Get It! label. (Photo Courtesy of Opera Carolina)
“We look at it as women go through hard times all the time — not just death, but anything — and just because you go through that doesn’t mean that you are tragic or you’re not a heroine,” Vitale stated. “Yes, she dies but she’s still a heroine. That’s not a sign of weakness.”
The label for Carmen Get It! features Carmen dressed in red and pink colors that represent Carmen’s Spanish setting and the nationality of the lead character. The label looks like it’s on fire, with expressive red and yellow brush strokes that fill the space. It’s a far cry from Bold Missy Brewery’s normal mid-century paperback novel style on their labels.
Carmen Get It! will be available at Bold Missy Brewery Oct. 12, while the first performance of Opera Carolina’s season will open Nov. 10, starting with Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment. Performances run Nov. 10, 15 and 18 before Carmen takes the stage Jan. 19, 20 and 24. Then Eugene Onegin will run May 9, 11 and 12 to end the 2018-2019 “She Season” of Opera Carolina. Carmen Get It! will also be available at Belk Theater during all of these performances.