The IU Opera Theatre season closes with a bang this weekend with Georges Bizet's "Carmen." This opera, first performed in 1875, won instant success and has since become a staple. It remains one of the most beloved and most performed operas in the world because of its catchy melodies and vibrant action.\nIt tells the story of Carmen, a gypsy factory worker, who is loved by both the soldier Don José and the matador Escamillo, who fight to gain her attention.\nGuest Stage Director Jonathon Field said that he saw this opera's fame as a challenge.\n"It is one of the world's greatest operas, so there are going to be a lot of expectations for the performance," he said.\nField might be called a "Carmen" expert -- this is the eighth production of it that he has directed. He spent two weeks in Seville, Spain, to research the culture and he even took flamenco lessons.\n"I wanted to take the 'slice of life' or romantic approach and explain Spain and Spanish culture to the cast," Field said.\nThe approach Field described places emphasis on one of the many different theatrical aspects in "Carmen." Field said Bizet used Romantic opera, grand opera, musical theatre and verismo, or "slice of life," opera in creating the staging.\nField is happy with the cast.\n"Some (of the cast) definitely have professional potential," he said. "This is going to be a good production."\nTwo members of that cast -- Lisa LaFleur, who plays Carmen, and John Sumners, who plays Don José -- described their perspectives of the performance.\nLaFleur said the casts, including the director, are very good and the approach is generally relaxed.\n"(Field) is fun to work with," she said. "He is very energetic and imaginative, but we also have input."\nSumners agreed, saying preparation has been a lot of fun. He also elaborated on Field's directing style, which he finds a great benefit in rehearsals.\n"(Field) is very clear. Some directors are vague, but he gives us a frame to work in," he said.\nLa Fleur agreed.\n"(Field is) clear on staging, but he lets us improvise. The casts have different dynamics, and he makes it look more spontaneous, more real," she said.\nBoth vocalists also sing roles that have some of the most famous arias in the entire operatic repertoire, but they said they do not let this limit them.\n"I didn't want to do the arias until I actually had the role," LaFleur said. "But you have to find a way to make it your own."\nSumners' independent attitude has helped him, he said, to overcome the intimidation of the famous arias.\n"I do it the way I do it," he said. "Each voice is a different instrument. You can get into a lot of trouble imitating."\nLaFleur also acknowledged that the director has helped her approach the arias with confidence.\n"(Field) also knows how to deal with it -- he really calms down the actors," she said.\nAll people involved want the audience to walk away excited.\n"I can't see anyone not enjoying 'Carmen,'" Sumners said. "Everyone already knows half of it because the melodies are so famous."\nField's goal is to use "Carmen" as a gateway to of opera.\n"I want to leave people wanting to see more opera," he said. "All opera really has to be fabulous to draw (audiences) back."\n"Carmen" performs at 8 p.m. tonight, Saturday, and April 14 and 15 at the Musical Arts Center. Tickets are $15-35 and $10-20 for students. For more, visit www.music.indiana.edu.