Argentina Bizet, Carmen: Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of Ensamble Lírico Orquestal, Gustavo Codina (conductor), Auditorio de Belgrano, Buenos Aires. 28.3.2014. (JSJ)
Carmen: Mariana Rewerski
Don José: Enrique Folger
Micaela: Cecilia Layseca
Escamillo: Sebastián Angulegui
Frasquita: Ana Laura Menéndez
Mercedes: Milagros Seijó
Remendado: Sebastián Russo
Dancairo: Sebastián Sorarrain
Zúñiga: Claudio Rotella
Morales: Alfredo González Reig
Director/sets: Raúl Marego
Costumes: Mariela Daga
Lighting: Ernesto Bechara
Chorus: Gustavo Codina
Children’s chorus: Patricia González Ocantos
Choreography: Sibila Miatello
Ensamble Lírico Orquestal, one of the smaller independents bringing opera and choral music to Buenos Aires, has begun its 2014 season with a new production of Carmen – arguably its most ambitious production to date, at least in terms of the resources required.
Boasting no less than 160 participating artists (including the two choruses and dancers), this was an attractive and intelligent production, well presented with the nevertheless limited resources. Scenery was simple but evocative and the dress appropriate, along with effective lighting, being marred only by some unreadinesses, such as the 20 minute late start and a delay in the curtain opening after the Act 2 prelude, on top of the need for three intervals.
The husband-and-wife team of Gustavo Codina and Cecilia Layseca are the driving forces behind Ensamble Lírico Orquestal, and here Codina conducted an enthusiastic and largely fluent orchestra. He also trained an equally enthusiastic chorus, which similarly, and undoubtedly because of its size, exhibited some inaccuracies of timing.
For her part Layseca took the role of Micaela, singing with tenderness and lyricism, and the right degree of plaintiveness to contrast with the seductive Carmen of Mariana Rewerski. Rewerski sung with warmth and beauty, and while she may not have the earthy depth of some Carmens, neither did her sensuous portrayal need it.
Sebastián Angulegui was a correct but vocally lightweight Escamillo, and Ana Laura Menéndez and Milagros Seijó as the gipsies Frasquita and Mercedes, and Sebastián Russo and Sebastián Sorarrain as the smugglers Remendado and Dancairo all gave good performances, as did Claudio Rotella and Alfredo González Reig, respectively Zúñiga and Morales.
However the undoubted star of the night was Enrique Folger as a powerful Don José, both visually and vocally well demonstrating his changing emotions. His Flower song in Act 2 was memorable and the final burst of anger in which he kills Carmen the culmination of a portrayal of increasing intensity.
Jonathan Spencer Jones