Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Glyndebourne Festival Opera at the Proms

For its annual visit to the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Glyndebourne brought its new production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, an opera which premiered 200 years ago.

Béatrice and Bénédict at Glyndebourne

‘A caprice written with the point of a needle’: so Berlioz described his opera Béatrice and Bénédict, which pares down Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to its comic quintessence, shorn of the sub-plots, destroyed reputations and near-bloodshed of Shakespeare’s original.

Der fliegende Holländer, Bavarian State Opera

‘This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.’ It is, perhaps, a line quoted too often; yet, even though it may not have been entirely accurate on this occasion, it came to my mind. Its accuracy might be questioned in several respects.

Evergreen Baby in Colorado

Central City Opera celebrated the 60th anniversary of The Ballad of Baby Doe with a hip, canny, multi-faceted new production.

Lean and Mean Tosca in Colorado

Someone forgot to tell Central City Opera that it would be difficult to fit Puccini’s (usually) architecturally large Tosca on their small stage.

Die Walküre, Baden-Baden

A cast worthy of Bayreuth made for an unforgettable Wagnerian experience at the Sommer Festspiele in Baden-Baden.

Des Moines’ Elusive Manon

Loving attention to the highest quality was everywhere evident in Des Moines Metro Opera’s Manon.

Falstaff in Iowa: A Big Fat Hit

Des Moines Metro Opera had (almost) all the laughs in the right places, and certainly had all the right singers in these meaty roles to make for an enjoyable outing with Verdi’s masterpiece

Die Fledermaus, Opera Holland Park

With the thermometers reaching boiling point, there’s no doubt that summer has finally arrived in London. But, the sun seems to have been shining over the large marquee in Holland Park all summer.

Nice, July 14, and then . . .

J.S. Bach’s cerebral Art of the Fugue in Aix, Verdi’s massive Requiem in Orange, Ibn al-Muqaffa’ ‘s fable of the camel, jackal, wolf and crow, Sophocles’ blind Oedipus Rex and the Bible’s triumphant Psalm No. 150 in Aix.

Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance

The champagne corks popped at the close of this year’s Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance at the Royal Opera House, with Prince Orlofsky’s celebratory toast forming a fitting conclusion to some superb singing.

Prom 2: Boris Godunov, ROH

Bryn Terfel is making a habit of performing Russian patriarchs at the Proms.

Des Moines’ Gluck Sets the Standard

What happens when just everything about an operatic performance goes joyously right?

Des Moines: Jewels in Perfect Settings

Two years ago, the well-established Des Moines Metro Opera experimented with a 2nd Stages program, with performances programmed outside of their home stage at Simpson College.

First Night of the Proms 2016

What to make of the unannounced decision to open this concert with the Marseillaise? I am sure it was well intended, and perhaps should leave it at that.

La Cenerentola, Opera Holland Park

In a fairy-tale, it can sometimes feel as if one is living a dream but on the verge of being awoken to a shock. Such is life in these dark and uncertain days.

Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno in Aix

The tense, three hour knock-down-drag-out seduction of Beauty by Pleasure consumed our souls in this triumphal evening. Forget Time and Disillusion as destructors, they were the very constructors of the beauty and pleasure found in this miniature oratorio.

Pelleas et Mélisande in Aix

Three parallel universes (before losing count) — the ephemeral Debussy/Maeterlinck masterpiece, the Debussy symphonic tone poem, and the twisted intricacies of a moldy, parochially English country estate.

Siegfried, Opera North

This, alas, was where I had to sign off. A weekend conference on Parsifal (including, on the Saturday, a showing of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s Parsifal film) mean that I missed Götterdämmerung, skipping straight to the sequel.

Götterdämmerung, Opera North

The culmination of Opera North’s “Ring for Everyone”, this Götterdämmerung showed the power of the condensed movement so necessary in a staged performance - each gesture of each character was perfectly judged - as well as the visceral power of having Wagner’s huge orchestra on stage as opposed to the pit.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Katharine Goeldner as Carmen and Yonghoon Lee as Don José [Photo by Dan Rest courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago]
03 Nov 2010

A Carmen Cast to Strength: Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Revival

For its second production of the current season Lyric Opera of Chicago has staged a modified revival of its Carmen under the direction of Harvey Silverstein.

Georges Bizet: Carmen

Carmen: Katharine Goeldner; Don José: Yonghoon Lee; Micaëla: Elaine Alvarez; Escamillo: Kyle Ketelsen; Zuniga: Craig Irvin; Frasquita: Jennifer Jakob; Mercédès: Emily Fons; Dancaïre: Paul Scholten; Remendado: René Barbera; Moralès: Paul La Rosa. Chicago Children's Chorus. Josephine Lee: Artistic Director. Alain Altinoglu: Conductor. Harry Silverstein: Stage Director. Robin Don: Set Designer. Robert Perdziola: Costume Designer. Jason Brown: Lighting Designer. Chorus Master: Donald Nally. Choreographer & Ballet Mistress: August Tye.

Above: Katharine Goeldner as Carmen and Yonghoon Lee as Don José [Photo by Dan Rest courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago]

 

The principals are assuming their roles for the first time at Lyric, and the conductor Alain Altinoglu makes his house debut in these performances. Katherine Goeldner fits exceptionally well into the production as a dramatically convincing and vocally assured Carmen. Yonghoon Lee projects his alternately confused and devoted emotional state in a forthright depiction of Don José. Elaine Alvarez and Kyle Ketelsen make strong impressions as Micaëla and Escamillo respectively. A well chosen supporting cast from the Ryan Opera Center fulfills the lyrical and dramatic needs of this colorful panorama which ultimately ends in tragedy.

In his approach to the overture Altinoglu encouraged a light touch with effective, percussive elements used to give structural shape. As the curtain rises on a mixture of pale greys and browns -- bathed here in a bright, summery light -- the collected soldiers laze about until Michaëla enters in search of Don José. Moralès leads the men in playful banter with the shy woman: here Paul La Rosa uses his warm, lyrical baritone to good effect as a Moralès whose urging at first assures, then repels Micaëla. In the latter role Ms. Alvarez applies vibrato and liquid notes sensitively to express the feelings she wishes to communicate when she finally locates José. At his entrance Mr. Lee strikes a disciplined pose as both soldier and compatriot to the maiden who has come to search for him. Only gradually during this and the following act does Mr. Lee’s persona show the descent into a world ruled by passion, once he encounters and becomes obsessed with Carmen. As the tempting femme Katherine Goeldner performs her two well-known arias from Act I as a natural extension of the character’s personality. At the words “prends garde” (“beware”), Goeldner sings forte with a convincing dramatic and vocal poise, following this with piano lines that delineate further her seductive and playful attitude. When she repeats her warning, the line is sufficiently varied to command the attention of a transfixed Don José, with Goeldner concluding on a dramatic top note. As the stage is then transformed by red illumination, José’s infatuation is -- in this production -- perhaps all too pointedly revealed to the audience. Ms. Goeldner’s seguidilla later in Act I is sung with equal assurance and admirable attention to linear detail. Despite the appeals so fervently delivered by the Micaëla of Ms. Alvarez, José is ultimately distracted to the point of assisting in Carmen’s escape.

The second and following acts of Lyric Opera’s Carmen make use of a set modified from the first act with altered lighting and effective placement of props. As Frasquita and Mercédès Jennifer Jakob and Emily Fons are exuberant foils to Goeldner’s Carmen, all three giving a sultry impression as they sing and cavort in ensembles. Perhaps most striking in this and subsequent acts is the image created for Escamillo by Kyle Ketelsen. His “Votre Toast” [(“Your toast”), Toreador Song] is a model of declamation, extended lyrical line, and an even projection from secure bass notes to a ringing, exciting top. Mr. Ketelsen’s experience in this role is further evident in the dramatic, convincing ease with which he projects both swagger and the need for adulation. As the rival for Carmen’s interest Mr. Lee soon pays what he presumes to be a brief visit to the gypsy camp. In his aria “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” (“The flower which you threw to me”) Lee invests piano notes with sincerity and tenderness, yet the descriptive and dramatic portions of the aria show an overuse of forte singing. His revised commitment to the camp of smugglers is complete until Micaëla returns to seek him out in the third act. Ms. Alvarez gives an accomplished performance of Micaëla’s prayer-like aria in Act III, her tendency to shade lyrical phrases alternating touchingly with urgent pleas for divine help. Again, it is the Toreador whose melody ends the act and prepares the audience for a final scene of celebration and violence. In that last, brief act Mr. Lee’s desperate tone as Don José are appropriate to his character’s mental state, something which Goeldner’s Carmen refuses to take seriously until, tragically, too late.

Salvatore Calomino

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):