Thursday, 20 November 2014

Review | CARMEN (Welsh National Opera) November 2014

Carmen, the opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, on 3 March 1875, and at first was not particularly successful. Judging by attendance numbers this evening, things have since changed as a packed-out theatre eagerly awaited the passionate piece.

At the front of it all is Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the fiery Gypsy, Carmen. José abandons his childhood sweetheart but yet loses Carmen's love to the glamorous toreador Escamillo, after which comes a much foreboded killing.

This revival of Welsh National Opera's 1997 production has everything going in terms of talent. An immense cast make up an impressive ensemble and lead performers with Alessandra Volpe as Carmen are quite obviously world class.

Entirely sung in French the production, like many operas can be hard to follow. Surtitles in English are at the top of of the proscenium but  you find yourself deciding on whether to look up and miss the action or try and follow the story without understanding. For a first time opera-goer it can be a little overwhelming but by the end of a much faster paced second half, the climax does manage to leave the heart aching.

The set uses Goya inspired backdrops to suggest the intensity of 19 Century Spain. It's hardly elaborate and doesn't change throughout - there are no concerns that focus won't be on the performers, there's little else to look at. The biggest delights are the young boys, in perfect harmony as street urchins and the fine orchestra, conducted by a young James Southall. The famous tunes impress, such as Toreador which is a welcome, more upbeat moment also Habanera.

It's a dark tale but one with enough to make your evening enjoyable. A night of raw passion, played out by a stellar cast. At Birmingham Hippodrome until 20 November. For a full list of WNO performances, click here

No comments:

Post a Comment