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Carmen - Teatro Real Madrid


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Teatro Real. Madrid (ESP), Dezember 9 and 10, 2002


Carmen (Denyce Graves) throws the flower at Don José -
the start of a fatal affaire
Photos:  Javier del Real

To see Bizet's French opera Carmen in its 'home country' adds a special thrill. Already the colorful and in details going, but not too opulent production of 1999 by the today's artistic director of the Teatro Real Emilio Sagi (stage design: Gerardo Trotti, costumes: Jesús del Pozo, light: Guido Levi) and the rousing choreography by Antonio Márquez made the Carmen performances at the Madrid opera house to a delightful evening. The second and the fourth act of Bizet's in 1875 first shown opera were especially impressively and lively arranged with his dance ensemble by the Andalusian dance specialist, who gave himself a by the audience strongly cheered dance appearance in the last act. With the US-American mezzo- soprano Denyce Graves acted one of the most celebrated incarnations of the title role of the current opera scene seductively, with a convincing appearance and voice on the stage of the Madrid opera house. The attractive singer, also famous for her interpretation of Dalila in Samson et Dalila, had had her debuts at several major opera houses like the New York Metropolitan Opera, the London Covent Garden or the Opera Bastille at Paris in the part of Carmen.

Seductive: Denyce Graves as Carmen

That the cheers, which the audience spent to Antonio Márquez and his dance company, were not given by the very critical Madrid public in the same extent to the singers and the musical director had to do with the quite mixed performance of the ensemble. The Paris born director of the Seville symphonic orchestra Alain Lombard, who is celebrated for his numerous, very successful recordings of his French repertory, did offer with the Madrid symphonic orchestra a more coarsely weaved sound carpet, which could have included in some moments more nuances and produced a stronger atmosphere. Excellent was the choir prepared by its director Martin Merry.

Against these strong woman weapons Don José (Sergej Larin)
cannot resist and let Carmen (Denyce Graves) escape, what he
has to pay with  some days in prison.

The Russian tenor Sergej Larin, who has celebrated already great successes at all major opera houses in the world, was fighting as Don José not only with the moodiness of his adored Carmen, but also with – hopefully just temporary – vocal problems and he managed only by his experience and techniques to bring nevertheless his flower aria in quite a good shape across the orchestra pitch. A vocal and visual enjoyment was again the Spanish soprano Isabel Rey as Micaela with fine heights, secure guidance of her voice and at the same time a girlish appearance and much sensitivity for her role. The Mexican baritone Jorge Lagunes, who had to sing also for the second cast baritone Giovanni Furlanetto at December 9, did not meet an unanimous approval of the Madrid audience as Escamillo, but gave a solid performance in the role of the self-assured torero. A Carmen of flesh and blood was also Béatrice Uria-Monzon in the second cast. The French soprano, who can be heard on CD in this part under the baton of Alain Lombard, might not have totally the vocal expressiveness as Denyce Graves, but put her part with much fire and credibility and for Carmen perfect appearance on the stage. An eye should be kept on the still young, by Plácido Domingo supported Virginia Tola. As Micaela the Argentinian soprano sang this part too dramatic and with too sharp heights, but she owns a very nice middle range and with some more experience she will certainly be able to make a better use of her potential. A weak point of the performance of December 9 was Julian Gavin as Don José. The Australian tenor, who has started his career at Great-Britain singing the leading tenor part in operas like Jenufa, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Rigoletto, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Ernani, La traviata and Il trovatore repeatingly with the Opera North and giving his debut in Don Carlos under the baton of Haitink at the London Covent Garden in 1996, has already sung several times also in the German opera houses including the German Opera at Berlin. But, at least in the performance of December 9 mellowness and persuasiveness were missing in his voice and also is acting was not very convincing.

A last time Don José (Sergej Larin) begs Carmen (Denyce Graves)
to come back to him. When she refuses, he stabs her with a knife.

A special candy it had for the numerous Antonio Márquez fans at the two opera-free evenings in the Teatro Real with his in December 2001 established program 'Preludio, Zapateado and Flamenco marriage' in the tavern scenery of the second act of Carmen. Andalusian dance in perfection, which gave also to those performing so much joy that they did not be mean with encores to the pleasure of the enthusiastic audience.

Birgit Popp
more information: www.teatro-real.com




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