For a number of years I taught the opera Carmen to young people. It was, in many ways, the perfect vehicle for helping hormone-hungry teenagers make the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
In those days, the expression of sexuality was still relatively taboo territory. The struggles between Carmen and Don José were complex and multidimensional (understatement); which many of my students understood intuitively.
But as the young people I taught made the crucial and sometimes painful transition to adulthood, they knew unconsciously that they too had to undergo the “crise de coeur” that Carmen and Don José had to. From two different worlds — and cultures — these two tragic protagonists represent opposite poles of the human spectrum.
And yet, they shared passions that can destabilize the mind and the soul.
My choice of video was the stunning version with Julia Migenes and Placido Domingo.
For adolescents in many cultures, “growing up” can be very painful. This is especially true in multicultural Canada where many young people find themselves trapped in inter-cultural conflicts. Like Carmen and Don José, they can often find themselves conflicted about what social conventions or their ethnic backgrounds demand of them.
Such conflicts can be both inter-generational as well as intercultural.
For many young people that I have taught, making the transition from adolescence to to adulthood also involves metaphysical anguish. Young people can indeed indulge in melodrama, thinking that they are the only ones who feel as they do, but at what point does melodrama become drama?
As I have said before, “You can’t be just a little bit pregnant.”
A related story from the Philosophical Traveller…