Carmen: We know her, we love her, and we can't get enough of her. People who have never been to an opera house could probably recognize Carmen within a few notes. And those who love opera remain fascinated by this sexy creature. Florida Grand Opera, which began its relationship with Bizet's Gypsy half a century ago, is saying farewell to an era by staging Carmen as the last production at its current locale. The news is mixed, but the singing is fine. True, the traditional sets are not only cramped (blame the auditorium) but also ugly. Scattering twigs on a plaza does not make it look like a mountaintop, and the high-flying Gypsy smugglers in their raucous hideout looked uncomfortably like homeless people encamped in the middle of town. Add to that David Gately's silly direction, and any hope of real drama goes out the window. Plus the bullfight parade in Act Four is a lame amateur show inexplicably led by Chinese ribbon dancers. The acting is, for the most part, wooden. Then again, the tale is in the music. And the music is hot. Octavio Roca Through May 6. Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-547-5414, 1-800-741-1010, www.fgo.org.
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The Impressionists: In the 2000 movie Pollock, a crucially transformative scene places Jackson Pollock breaking through his previous conventions to slap paint on canvases. When wife Lee Krasner comes around to see what would forever after be recognized as his signature groove, she proclaims, "You've done it, Pollock. You've cracked it wide open." The cracking-wide-open transformation in artistic temperament and creativity is what South Florida playwright Michael McKeever seemingly aims to track in his new play. He defines "a time, a place, a moment" for the fringes of the Paris art community of the 1860s and '70s, when "with a blink of an eye," paradigms shifted and something new and thrilling was hatched among a group of upstart painters. This is one of those history-theater experiences that brings out the most self-congratulatory aspects of its audience, unable to hold back harrumphs of satisfaction as they match characters onstage with reproductions of ballerinas hanging in the foyers and bathrooms of their McMansions. With flawless acting in delicious period costumes and spot-on dialogue, scenes roll along with their own careful momentum. But though the play is fun, it is also more like a series of interesting footnotes than a deeper reflection into the creative process itself. Dave Amber Through May 21. Caldwell Theatre Company, 7873 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton; 561-241-7432.