Opera evaluation: Carmen at Royal Opera Home

Opera evaluation: Carmen at Royal Opera Home

This was not what I used to be used to. Rather than Bizet's traditional story of doomed love between a passionate soldier and a gypsy woman, with p

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This was not what I used to be used to. Rather than Bizet’s traditional story of doomed love between a passionate soldier and a gypsy woman, with properly designed units depicting every thing from a city sq. in Seville to a seedy bar frequented by smugglers, we have been introduced with a voice-over narrating the story, quite a lot of body-popping dancing and arm-flapping, and an unlimited staircase which dominated the stage all through. Seeing this revival, I anticipated to be appalled once more, however stunned myself by liking it immensely. Maybe it was as a result of my expectations have been completely different, however figuring out what to anticipate actually put me in a greater mind set to understand the Australian director’s intentions.

George Bernard Shaw as soon as mentioned that “opera is when a tenor and soprano need to make love, however are prevented from doing so by a baritone,” and Carmen is an ideal instance.

The soprano is Carmen herself (truly a mezzo-soprano, however let’s not be fussy), the tenor is Don Jose and the baritone (truly a bass) is the toreador Escamillo whose swaggering manner lures Carmen away from Don Jose.

The Royal Opera as at all times has solid these roles excellently.

They have been very fortunate to get French mezzo-soprano Gaëlle Arquez to take the title position after sickness pressured the unique singer to drop out. This manufacturing is so completely different from earlier Carmens that only a few singers are aware of it, however Arquez took the position a number of instances within the earlier manufacturing and was in a position to step in. American tenor Brian Jagde gave a convincing efficiency as Don Jose and Russian bass Alexander Vinogradov was a splendid bullfighter/lover.

The manufacturing of Carmen which Kosky’s model changed was gloriously directed by Francesco Zambello and featured an entrance by Escamillo on a powerful black horse. Fortuitously, Kosky allotted with the horse.

It could by no means have managed the staircase. This model can also be nearer to Prosper Mérimée’s novel on which the opera was initially based mostly than the Carmen we’re used to. It additionally consists of some music by Bizet that was dropped earlier than the opera’s premiere in 1875. This has been performed extra thoughtfully for the revival than once we first heard Kosky’s manufacturing and the result’s a tighter, extra satisfying efficiency, performed with nice precision and verve by the Canadian Keri-Lynn Wilson making her Royal Opera debut.

There are nonetheless a number of issues about this manufacturing that I don’t perceive. Why is Carmen, when she first seems, wearing a gorilla swimsuit? Is that this supposed as homage to Marlene Dietrich who worse the same costume within the 1932 movie Blonde Venus? That sounds a bit tenuous, however I have not seen one other clarification. Why does one of many dancers have a laughing match that goes on for ages because the viewers look bemused when Don Jose lets Carmen escape arrest? And what’s meant to be conveyed by Carmen’s getting up proper at finish, after being stabbed to loss of life, and giving a bit shrug? Is is a teasing “don’t be concerned people, I am not useless”? Or is it “Nicely, that is life: it was all within the playing cards, you realize”? Arquez carried out this so engagingly, the viewers tittered their approval, however I doubt if anybody was positive what was occurring. 

Field Workplace: 020 7304 4000 or roh.org.uk (varied dates till December 22).

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