Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Monteverdi: The Ache of Love - Live from London

There’s a “slide of harmony” and “all the bones leave your body at that moment and you collapse to the floor, it’s so extraordinary.”

After Silence: VOCES8

‘After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music.’ Aldous Huxley’s words have inspired VOCES8’s new disc, After Silence, a ‘double album in four chapters’ which marks the ensemble’s 15th anniversary.

Beethoven's Songs and Folksongs: Bostridge and Pappano

A song-cycle is a narrative, a journey, not necessarily literal or linear, but one which carries performer and listener through time and across an emotional terrain. Through complement and contrast, poetry and music crystallise diverse sentiments and somehow cohere variability into an aesthetic unity.

Music for a While: Rowan Pierce and Christopher Glynn at Ryedale Online

“Music for a while, shall all your cares beguile.”

Flax and Fire: a terrific debut recital-disc from tenor Stuart Jackson

One of the nicest things about being lucky enough to enjoy opera, music and theatre, week in week out, in London’s fringe theatres, music conservatoires, and international concert halls and opera houses, is the opportunity to encounter striking performances by young talented musicians and then watch with pleasure as they fulfil those sparks of promise.

Carlisle Floyd's Prince of Players: a world premiere recording

“It’s forbidden, and where’s the art in that?”

John F. Larchet's Complete Songs and Airs: in conversation with Niall Kinsella

Dublin-born John F. Larchet (1884-1967) might well be described as the father of post-Independence Irish music, given the immense influenced that he had upon Irish musical life during the first half of the 20th century - as a composer, musician, administrator and teacher.

Haddon Hall: 'Sullivan sans Gilbert' does not disappoint thanks to the BBC Concert Orchestra and John Andrews

The English Civil War is raging. The daughter of a Puritan aristocrat has fallen in love with the son of a Royalist supporter of the House of Stuart. Will love triumph over political expediency and religious dogma?

Beethoven’s Choral Symphony and Choral Fantasy from Harmonia Mundi

Beethoven Symphony no 9 (the Choral Symphony) in D minor, Op. 125, and the Choral Fantasy in C minor, Op. 80 with soloist Kristian Bezuidenhout, Pablo Heras-Casado conducting the Freiburger Barockorchester, new from Harmonia Mundi.

A Musical Reunion at Garsington Opera

The hum of bees rising from myriad scented blooms; gentle strains of birdsong; the cheerful chatter of picnickers beside a still lake; decorous thwacks of leather on willow; song and music floating through the warm evening air.

Taking Risks with Barbara Hannigan

A Louise Brooks look-a-like, in bobbed black wig and floor-sweeping leather trench-coat, cheeks purple-rouged and eyes shadowed in black, Barbara Hannigan issues taut gestures which elicit fire-cracker punch from the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

Alfredo Piatti: The Operatic Fantasies (Vol.2) - in conversation with Adrian Bradbury

‘Signor Piatti in a fantasia on themes from Beatrice di Tenda had also his triumph. Difficulties, declared to be insuperable, were vanquished by him with consummate skill and precision. He certainly is amazing, his tone magnificent, and his style excellent. His resources appear to be inexhaustible; and altogether for variety, it is the greatest specimen of violoncello playing that has been heard in this country.’

'In my end is my beginning': Mark Padmore and Mitsuko Uchida perform Winterreise at Wigmore Hall

All good things come to an end, so they say. Let’s hope that only the ‘good thing’ part of the adage is ever applied to Wigmore Hall, and that there is never any sign of ‘an end’.

Those Blue Remembered Hills: Roderick Williams sings Gurney and Howells

Baritone Roderick Williams seems to have been a pretty constant ‘companion’, on my laptop screen and through my stereo speakers, during the past few ‘lock-down’ months.

Iestyn Davies and Elizabeth Kenny bring 'sweet music' to Wigmore Hall

Countertenor Iestyn Davies and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny kicked off the final week of live lunchtime recitals broadcast online and on radio from Wigmore Hall.

Bruno Ganz and Kirill Gerstein almost rescue Strauss’s Enoch Arden

Melodramas can be a difficult genre for composers. Before Richard Strauss’s Enoch Arden the concept of the melodrama was its compact size – Weber’s Wolf’s Glen scene in Der Freischütz, Georg Benda’s Ariadne auf Naxos and Medea or even Leonore’s grave scene in Beethoven’s Fidelio.

From Our House to Your House: live from the Royal Opera House

I’m not ashamed to confess that I watched this live performance, streamed from the stage of the Royal Opera House, with a tear in my eye.

Woman’s Hour with Roderick Williams and Joseph Middleton at Wigmore Hall

At the start of this lunchtime recital, Roderick Williams set out the rationale behind the programme that he and pianist Joseph Middleton presented at Wigmore Hall, bringing to a close a second terrific week of live lunchtime broadcasts, freely accessible via Wigmore Hall’s YouTube channel and BBC Radio 3.

Francisco Valls' Missa Regalis: The Choir of Keble College Oxford and the AAM

In the annals of musical controversies, the Missa Scala Aretina debate does not have the notoriety of the Querelle des Bouffons, the Monteverdi-Artusi spat, or the audience-shocking premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

Two song cycles by Sir Arthur Somervell: Roderick Williams and Susie Allan

Robert Browning, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Charles Kingsley, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, A.E. Housman … the list of those whose work Sir Arthur Somervell (1863-1937) set to music, in his five song-cycles, reads like a roll call of Victorian poetry - excepting the Edwardian Housman.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

15 Aug 2014

Santa Fe Opera Presents an Imaginative Carmen

Santa Fe opera has presented Carmen in various productions since 1961. This year’s version by Stephen Lawless takes place during the recent past in Northern Mexico near the United States border. The performance on August 6, 2014, featured Ana Maria Martinez as a monumentally sexy Gypsy who was part of a drug smuggling group.

Carmen at Santa Fe Opera

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Ana Maria Martinez as Carmen and Roberto de Biasio as Don Josè

 

Georges Bizet composed his opera, Carmen, to verses by Ludovic Halévy and dialogue by Henri Meilhac. Based on Prosper Mérimée’s novella of the same name, the work was first performed at the Opéra-Comique on March 3, 1875. The Comique audience was accustomed to seeing performances that did not reflect any of the serious issues of the day and the low class characters seen in Carmen surprised many people. Local reviews were not positive, but the opera soon gained popularity from performances outside France. When it returned to Paris eight years later, it was already well on its way to becoming a major success.

Santa Fe opera has presented Carmen in various productions since 1961. This year’s version by Stephen Lawless takes place during the recent past in Northern Mexico near the United States border. The performance on August 6, 2014, featured Ana Maria Martinez as a monumentally sexy Gypsy who was part of a drug smuggling group. Because of the updating and change of setting, Jorge Jara’s costumes were smartly styled in bright colors except for the first act where Carmen and her colleagues wore factory smocks that they left open in front because of the summer heat.

Benoit Dugardyn’s Act II Tavern had a disco ball and microphones for Carmen’s nightclub act, the Chanson Bohème. His striking third act set put all but the most athletic smugglers behind the high fence that marked the border, so it was not until the last act that the audience got to again see the leading characters’ facial expressions. When we did see his face, Jose had become a dangerous, broken man who stalked his former lover.

Conductor Rory Macdonald began the performance with crisp, sprightly tempi that immediately set him apart as a force to be reckoned with. He caught the essence of Bizet’s work while allowing the singers enough room to interpret their individual parts as he drew fine playing from the orchestra. An enchanting seductress, Ana Maria Martinez was a Carmen to remember whose interpolated high notes added considerable interest to her vocal interpretation.

Tenor Roberto De Biasio was a passionate Don José who sang his role with ease except for the notably difficult final pianissimo of the Flower Song. As his original lover Micaëla, Joyce El-Khoury’s smooth legato and silvery high notes told of her plight in dangerous times. Kostas Smoriginas was a charismatic bullfighter who took over Carmen’s nightclub audience with his virile, resonant bronzed tones.

Amanda Opuszynski’s Frasquita had bell-like high notes, but low notes of Sarah Larsen, the Mercédès, were hard to hear. The strong voices of Dan Kempson as Le Dancaïre, and Noah Baetge as Le Remendado completed the group of smugglers. Surprisingly, for the beginning of the quintet, Director Lawless placed Carmen upstage, away from the others and there were a few unsynchronized notes.

SantaFe_Nockin2.pngTOP ROW: SARAH LARSEN (MERCÉDÈS) + DAN KEMPSON (LE DANCAÏRE) + AMANDA OPUSZYNSKI (FRASQUITA) BOTTOM ROW: ROBERTO DE BIASIO (DON JOSÉ) + ANA MARÍA MARTÍNEZ (CARMEN) + NOAH BAETGE (LE REMENDADO)

This production incorporated an unusual conception of this fascinating opera that worked well and gave the audience a new look at a most familiar piece. Musically, Martinez was an outstanding soprano Carmen who moved the gypsy into modern times.

Maria Nockin


Casts and production information:

Carmen, Ana Maria Martinez; Don José, Roberto De Biasio; Escamillo, Kostas Smoriginas; Micaëla, Joyce El-Khoury; Frasquita, Amanda Opuszynski; Le Dancaïre, Dan Kempson; Le Remendado, Noah Baetge; Morales, Ricardo Rivera; Zuniga Evan Hughes; A Vendor, Rebecca Witty; Conductor, Rory Macdonald; Director, Stephen Lawless; Scenic Design, Benoit Dugardyn; Costume Design, Jorge Jara; Lighting design, Pat Collins; Projection Design, Jon Driscoll; choreographer, Nicola Bowie; Chorus Master, Susanne Sheston.

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):