Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Friday, 29 May 2015

Review time ~ Carmen!

Last night's Carmen at the London Colosseum was a wonderful, exciting experience.  I have seen Carmen before and thought I knew what to expect but this production really made me re-assess the whole work.   As one expects from English National Opera the performances were top notch, the Orchestra, Chorus and Soloists all being fine musicians well polished and technically accomplished; still it was the action on the stage that made the biggest impact.

Out went the gaudy 19th Century uniforms, colourful flamenco dresses and tavern scenes, in came brutality, sex, and raw physicality.

Reviews have been varied The Standard finding it raw and effective while back in 2012 when the production was new The Telegraph felt it missed the mark. It may well be that the intervening years have allowed the ENO to hone the production, I certainly found that Justina Gringyte captured the sexual allure, struggle for freedom and ultimate hopelessness of Carmen.   As Don Jose Eric Cutler was incendiary and tender, displaying the madness of passion.

I felt no lack of a Tavern Scene and rather enjoyed the channeling of Frank Sinatra by Leigh Melrose as Escamillo.

Indeed for me the only weak point was the portrayal of Micaela as a bit of a "chav" I felt that by making her a little predatory and scheming we lost some of the character contrast (and therefore the alternative choices faced by Don Jose) between her and Carmen.   I just felt that this one piece of the production didn't quite match with the score.

It has to be said that it was not only some of the girls providing a bit of "eye candy" there were some thoroughly ripped male torsos on display (sorry but I couldn't help noticing).   I felt that none of the little displays (even the odd bit of nakedness) around the main story line were gratuitous but all added to the overall direction of  production, but I did feel the lack of some of the cut dialogue.

One final observation, a good portion of the soldiers were played by young fit strong guys who performed some quite physical stuff, acrobatics, fights, physical jerks, scene shifting and pushing cars around (it all makes sense when you see it) it was only right at the end as curtain calls were being taken that I noticed one of the soldiers did in fact appear to be played by a girl.

Photos from the ENO web site
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