This Saturday, on CBC Radio’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, I’ll be presenting a Canadian Opera Company production of Georges Bizet’s Carmen, starring soprano Rinat Shaham.

Photo by Michael Cooper, COC

Carmen is an opera that’s impossible not to love (in my opinion). It’s not for nothing it’s one of the most popular operas of all time. And Carmen herself is a big part of that. She’s a powerful woman, irresistible, independent, bewitching, someone who meets every challenge head-on. Someone who loves the spotlight.

On the show, I’ll be taking a look at the Carmen archetype by paying tribute to singers who embody Carmen’s spirit: singers like Maria Callas, Edith Piaf, Loretta Lynn, and, especially to be remembered this year, the late Lhasa de Sela.

Lhasa passed away on Jan 1, 2010 in Montreal, much too young, after a battle with breast cancer. I was in Montreal that week and it felt like the city itself sensed the magnitude of the loss: it snowed for 40 hours straight – true, not an uncommon occurrence in Montreal in winter – but there was a palpable hush, as if Montreal’s musical soul was taking a moment to acknowledge the tragic loss of one of its most talented daughters.

Hope you can join me, Saturday, November 20th, starting at 1pm  (1:30 NT, 2 AT) on CBC Radio 2 across Canada or online from wherever you are at cbc.ca/radio2.