Sliced but Sizzling Carmen in Stockholm

12/10/2011

  Georges Bizet Carmen:  Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera, Children from Adolf Fredrik’s Music Classes, Lionel Bringuier (director), Royal Swedish Opera, Stockholm, 24.9.2011 (GF)

Production:

Director: Vincent Boussard
Sets: Vincent Lemaire
Costumes: Zana Bosnjak
Lighting design: Hans-Åke Sjöquist

Cast:

Carmen – Katarina Dalayman
Don José – Mikael Weinius
Escamillo – David Bizic
Micaëla – Emma Vetter
Zuniga –Michael Schmiedberger
Morales – Pär Nilsén
Dancaire – Anton Eriksson
Remendado –Niklas Björling-Rygert
Frasquita – Vivianne Holmberg
Mercédès – Katarina Giotas

Just home from Helsinki and the revival of their four-year-old Carmen, I had to rush down to Stockholm for the Royal Opera’s stab at the same work. There had been rumours of a quite new approach from director Vincent Boussard. The sets were not much to write home about: a gigantic cardboard box with doors and window served as the open space for the guards. In act II, it became not Lillas Pastia’s inn but rather a rehearsal room for the three gypsies. I suppose that Boussard simply wanted to get rid of Lillas Pastia, also by cutting almost all the spoken dialogue and Guiraud’s recitatives, which he openly declared were substandard. The effect of all this was a kind of compact Carmen with many loose ends, and, like the Finnish production Stockholm, also chopped up into short sequences with black curtains in between. Again, this is reminiscent of movie technique. I can imagine that those coming to see Carmen for the first time will feel a bit disoriented.

available at Amazon
G.Bizet, Carmen,
C.Abbado, / LSO
P.Domingo, I.Cotrubas, S.Milnes et al.
DG

Boussard has also changed the characters. This Carmen is not a seducer, though she radiates some kind of sexuality but the Habanera, her ‘credo’, is sung from a window high above the crowd – and she turns her back to the people. Micaëla is not the fair, innocent girl from the countryside but a tough bride in high-heeled boots and a haughty approach. She is tall, too, much taller than Carmen and thus a serious rival. Emma Vetter, like Karneus, is also a Wagner soprano with Senta and Sieglinde in her repertoire and therefore, like Kirsi Tiihonen in the previous Carmen production in Helsinki, a real challenge to the title role. Frasquita and Mercedes are already on their way down in society: Frasquita – a hilarious performance by Vivianne Holmberg – is high on drugs from beginning to end and Mercedes has taken to booze. The most chiselled portrait of all is Escamillo. He owns the stage whenever he is present. A superb skirt-chaser!

Michael Weinius, who is rapidly taking on the heroic roles – he will be Lohengrin next spring – has retained his lyrical qualities as well and sings with great beauty, especially in the duet with Micaëla in act I. His Flower Song is magical and when he lets go in the final duet he owns the stage. But actually, not quite! Katarina Dalayman, though a soprano and not a mezzo, has all the power and lyricism required and here are two dully-fledged dramatic singers with countless nuances to offer. István Kovácsházi in Helsinki was a truly memorable Don José; now I have heard two superb singers in the role within a week. David Bizic, who sang the High Priest in Samson et Dalila a few years ago, was possibly the best Escamillo I have ever seen, and though I would have preferred a more lyric Micaëla than Emma Vetter, she fit the concept well. The young French conductor Lionel Bringuier, at a mere 25, was on his toes throughout the performance and contributed to a heated evening. I am not sure I would like my Carmen this way every time, but it was a refreshing, thought-through performance. Full marks!

Göran Forsling

 

Print Friendly

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Spitalfields Music Festival 2017 in December __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere of The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu in December at Milton Court __________________________________
  • NEW! Hampstead Garden Opera Bring The Enchanted Pig to Highgate in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Svetlana Zakharova and Bolshoi Stars Bring Amore to the London Coliseum in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Tom Green and Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife Premieres on 15 October in Cardiff __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Autumn/Winter Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti’s ‘Alexandra and the Russians’ at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • NEW! Birmingham and Beyond: Ex Cathedra in 2017/18 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • NEW! The Generosity of Gwyneth Jones: Her Masterclass at the Royal College of Music __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • NEW! JUSTIN DOYLE DISCUSSES MONTEVERDI WITH MARK BERRY __________________________________
  • NEW! Katie Lowe Wins the 2017 Elizabeth Connell Prize __________________________________
  • NEW! ITINÉRAIRE BAROQUE 2017: TON KOOPMAN TALKS TO COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House in Mumbai is Restored to its Former Glory __________________________________
  • NEW! iSING! – International Young Artists Festival in Suzhou, China __________________________________
  • NEW! A Riveting Kokoschka’s Doll from Sir John Tomlinson and Counterpoise __________________________________
  • NEW! ANGELA BROWNRIDGE IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H