January 17, 2004 my hisband and I went to see Carmen. I hadn’t had the opportunity to read any of the preliminary material we were sent, so I went in to this one completely blind. I do’nt think I’ll do that again, I don’t like having to read the subtitles while trying to absorb everything else. It’d rather just focus on the stange and get the general gist of what they’re saying.
As with any opera, there were really two elements to this one - the stageplay and the music. However, this was the first time I’d seen the stage element be such a pronounced portion of the production. As such they’ll get treated as separate elements.
First the stageplay. The acting and set were fantastic. Carmen was hugely expressive and such a tragic figure. Don Jose and Micaela were absolutely convincing in their performance. In fact, I’ve seen many plays where the actors could not compare with the authenticity shown on this stage. Don Jose’s obsessive behavior reminded me of that of Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory.
The first act of the music was fun, fabulous at setting the mood for a jovial trip into town. No cares, no worries other than whether or not the children would come begging. I was surprised at how many songs I recognized, how such a complicated opera could make such inroads into popular culture. I really think that the opera community owes Warner Brothers and Bugs Bunny a lot of credit for making beautiful music accessible.
Unfortunately, the change of mood between acts could not be carried off the performers. The tragedy in the music was completely overwhelmed. I desperately wanted to feel the tragedy. They music told me that what was going on was worse than the words could convey. But I didn’t feel it in the voices. The inflection just wasn’t there.
Overall, a very uneven opera, but fun to attend.