Tuesday, May 18, 2010

REVIEW: CARMEN at the MET Opera HD Live

Yes, even though I didn’t go to the MET Opera HD Live screening of Bizet’s Carmen (check out my PREVIEW: CARMEN at the MET Opera HD Live is SOLD OUT! and SATOSHI: A Casualty of the Deadly Clashes in Bangkok), I still have a review… courtesy of Peter K., one of my minions of readers (ahem).

Peter went to the Sunday matinee (16th of May) screening of Carmen and it was his first time to attend a MET Opera HD Live screening. The following are excerpts from his letter to me (with a bit of editing from me to make the transition from a personal letter to a “review”):

“At first I was a little taken by the fact that the HD broadcast doesn’t look very HD to me… I think the sound system was pretty good as the singing sounded natural. I have watched the Tosca movie with Alagna and his ex-wife sometime ago in a regular cinema and I hated the sound. The bass of a regular movie theatre is just too overwhelming for opera and concert screening. However, the Wellcome Theatre seemed to have the balance right.”

“All the leads sang extremely well, especially Elina Granaca (as Carmen)! Such a deep dramatic voice, so beautiful and so “legato” at all times. On top of that, she was such a great actress and a stunning flamenco dancer too! There was a very fast dance number where she sang and danced at the same time. She was amazing! You would have thought only pop singers would do that sort of stuff but she pulled it off very impressively!”

“Roberto Alagna (as Don Jose) was also very good. His acting was also very natural and he responded to Garanca’s hot-blooded Carmen very well. I am not normally crazy about Barbara Fritolli (as Micaela) but there she was in a very smooth and blooming voice.”

“Escamillo was supposed to be sung by Mariusz Kwiecien, but our broadcast host, Renee Fleming, announced that he was sick and he was replaced by Teddy Tahu Rhodes. The first thing I noticed about this stand-in baritone was his unusually tall, lean and handsome look. It was not hard to understand why Carmen went for him at the end!”

“I have to give a lot of credits to the choreographer (Christopher Wheeldon), his dances all looked very authentic. The director (Richard Eyre) also put a lot of efforts in adding details and moves to the singers/actors in a way that I have never seen in other operas. Normally, in opera (even for those which were filmed live for later release in DVD and Blu rays), the opera singers were pretty much trained to make exaggerated gestures because in a real theatre it is impossible for the audience to notice those subtle body languages such as an eyewink or any facial expressions. But here, on top of those passionate singings, you can actually see and feel the chemistry between the singers and it was very real and touching. The TV director (Brian Large) who filmed the whole thing also made the opera quite cinematic by capturing it in angles that are quite unusual.”

“The best scene has to be the last, the anger portrayed by Alagna was truly scary… especially during the scene when he stepped on Garanca's long skirt and caused her to fall on the ground, and then pulled out his knife and stabbed it on the floor, only a few inches away from Garanca's face, while asking her one last time whether or not she still love him… and in the final scene when he had realized that he had killed Carmen, he frantically searched for the ring that she threw away and put it back on her finger, before the guards found him, it truly touched me to the core.”

“Well, few years back I was very very impressed with the new Carmen blu ray disc with Jonas Kauffman and Antonacci, and I thought nothing can top that in terms of their chemistry; but this new Met Carmen is now my definitive version!”


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At May 18, 2010 at 11:41 PM , Anonymous Carmen said...

Haha thank you Satoshi for posting my review and getting the names of the various singers and film directors right :) Now I know who that stunning baritone is :)


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