Music: Georges Bizet
Director: Boris Lagoda
Conductor: Azat Maksutov
Reviewer: Anna Ambelez
Love, treachery, passion and betrayal, Carmen has it all. An opera in four acts, Bizet adapted the plot from the novel ‘Carmen’ by French writer Prosper Merimee.
Opening in Seville, in a town square outside a cigarette factory, we see Michaela (Olga Sosnovskaya) asking some soldiers for her beau Sergeant Don Jose (Anatolii Zuravlev). When he appears he becomes enchanted by Carmen (Galina Malikova), who by throwing him a bewitched flower seduces him. Later Carmen injures a fellow factory worker in a fight and Don Joss is commanded to escort her to prison. Carmen persuades Don Jose to let her escape for which he is promptly imprisoned. In Act two Esamillo (Vladimir Celebrovskii) the famous, handsome bullfighter, appears in the local bar and tries to win Carmen’s heart and so the love triangle is established.
Finding a young beautiful girl to play Carmen, who also has a great voice, is not easy, but Galina Malikova comes very close; she has the look of a gypsy, moves accordingly and has a great mezzo-soprano voice. Olga Sosnovskaya is the Russian State Opera and Ballet Theatre of Komi’s leading soloist and her voice tells you why; she effortlessly reaches and holds her notes in a very melodic way, a delight to hear. Indeed all the singers do their company proud. It is always a pleasure to hear live music and the thirty strong orchestra are excellent under the strong young hand of Azat Maksuov.
Written by the Parisian George Bizet, it is one of the most popular and accessible operas, and one of the most frequently performed in the entire opera repertoire. The Toreador song from Act 2 is among the best known of all operatic arias. Strangely, when it premiered in 1875 it received poor reviews; maybe not surprising as it was very avant-garde for the time. It broke new ground being very controversial as prôletarian life, immorality and lawlessness were not subjects then covered on stage. Sadly Bizet never lived long enough to know of the spectacular and enduring success it was to achieve, dying just three months after its premiere of a heart attack, tragically aged only thirty seven.
While the theatre was not full, after a tepid opening, the audience responded well with regular applause, warming to the performance as it developed. Bizet’s music is widely acclaimed for its harmony and atmosphere. He skilfully represents the emotions and sufferings of his characters musically. While his music and words were beautifully performed, visually the production appears tired. The opening scene lacks vitality and animation. Act 2 starts with flamenco dancing and speaks of frenzied guitars, passion and excitement, little of which is displayed, the singers are no actors and their performance lacks vigour; they, their costumes and the scenery (Yori Samodurov) look tired and do not do the company justice. One day off in thirty three, traveling around the country has to take its toll. Love, treachery, passion and betrayal – Carmen has it all, but this production lacks the passion. However the talent of the company overall made for a very enjoyable evening.
Reviewed on: 3rd March 2014