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I own a lot of DVDs of productions from the Royal Opera House all of which are first class. I don't quite know what it is about this production of Carmen, but somehow it did not excite me in the way I though it would. First class singers of course, Maestro Pappano with the baton was not quite his normal inspired self and he did not elicit the magic from the score that Beecham does in his classic EMI recording.
The set was ok although why it needed what quite simply looked like a climbing wall in the 2ne Act is not quite clear. There is a small cut in some of the choral passages at the start of Act 4 and I prefer the sung recitatives rather than the spoken dialogue . The Blu ray DVD offers high quality picture and sound.
The sum of the parts does not quite add up to a perfect whole; not this there is anything so badly wrong with the production as a whole but for me it is not quite worth 5 stars cannot quite put my finger on why.
This is a review of Carmen with Anna Caterina Antonacci; Jonas Kaufmann; Ildebrando d’Arcangelo Covent Garden 2007. Anna Caterina Antonacci is a sultry vamp to end all sultry vamps and poor old Jonas Kaufmann just can't resist her, and who can blame him. In other words this production captures the spirit of nineteenth century French romanticism gone over the top with Andalusia: in my unfortunately extensive experience twenty-first century reality is that Andalusia is a dismal depressing place rapidly becoming even more uninhabitable thanks to global warming. Not much to sing about today.
This Royal Opera production, in superb Blu-ray or DVD formats, features a darkly aggressive Carmen with mutual hatred and a desire to destroy brought out strongly. This approach is made far more effective by use of the spoken script as Bizet intended rather than the recitatives that replaced the script later and are still often used.
The opening scene rightly emphasises Don Jose's murderous past more strongly than usual prior to joining the army as his escape from the law with an opening stage sequel showing Don Jose being taken off to be executed. Early in the opera Don Jose informs his commanding officer of his violent past which led to his joining the army. This essential violence in Don Jose's character is matched by that of Carmen but not understood by her for its likely conclusion. Kaufmann's Don Jose is not a weak man but rather a dangerously unstable man.
Antonacci, in this production, portrays Carmen as an essentially dominant woman intent on controlling men through sexual availability in order to achieve conquest over them. This is not the same as being interested in having a serial sexual interest in men. There is no indication in this production that this Carmen actually enjoys either men or sexual relationships. This is simply a story about power and control with a strong undercurrent of latent violence which leads to its inevitable conclusion.
Both Kaufmann and Antonacci sing and act their respective parts well and convincingly. Kaufmann is especially impressive in this dark portrayal and one which his voice suits perfectly. His portrayal is of such an outstanding nature that Don Jose's character and decline has an equal dramatic weight to match those features of Carmen.
The supporting roles are also well done with a splendid and handsome Escamillo (D'arcangelo) making his first entrance on real horseback - a strongly egocentric and sexual conception and well sung so it is easy to see why Carmen would be attracted to such a man. The part of Michaela is also well portrayed although she is clearly no match for the attractions of Carmen. This is a difficult role to make attractive and Norah Amsellem makes a creditable job of it. The two lead gypsy girls are excellent in their roles and make a strong team with the gypsy men. The women of the chorus enter fully into the rather seedy spirit of their part of the production and this is particularly apparent in the opening tavern scene in Act 2 and in all the factory scenes in Act 1. The male chorus members make for convincing soldiers.
The setting is of the period and is very fully staged with lots of period detail and atmosphere. This relates not just to the staging but also to the costuming so this production could be summarised as an enhanced traditional production. The whole opera benefits from the drive generated by Pappano and his orchestra. Overall this is a grippingly vivid and destructive version based upon the mutual need to dominate.
The camera work is fully involving and enables the viewer to feel part of the action. The imaging is crisp with good colour rendition. The sound is presented in DTS 5.1 and stereo.
In summary then, this production is likely to give much satisfaction and can offer a setting of the correct period and with a cast that can both sing and act well. The recording has good production values with excellent surround sound and good camera work. It takes its place among other recent fine issues such as those at Glyndebourne and The Met and personal preferences will be the deciding factor when it comes to choosing which to buy. All three listed above are equally fine in their differing ways. In my opinion this is a worthy 5 star issue and should give much musical and dramatic satisfaction to future purchasers.
This is a fantastic production of one of my favourite operas. The singing is superb, I particularly liked Jonas Kaufmann but all the cast are excellent. The acting is also of a very high standard and I felt for Don Jose in his disappointed love although I suppose nowadays we should see him as an abusive boyfriend! I even felt sorry for Carmen towards the end and I find her hard to like as she is so selfish and self indulgent. I like good design and Its always a welcome bonus for me when the costumes and scenery are first rate and this is very much the case - lots of vibrant but beautifully coordinated costumes and colours and wonderful stagecraft. This would be a good choice for anyone new to opera or not sure if they like it - its a good example of how passionate and moving opera can be.
What can one say about Jonas Kaufmann!!! Fantastic voice and terrific acting. The whole production of Carmen is a real treat. Spectacular - the whole cast - and very enjoyable. Had the pleasure of seeing Jonas Kaufmann in the Festival Hall last October, sitting in Row 4 his voice was powerful, pure, all the high C's plus depth and warmth. It was a great experience. Recommend.
Most previous reviews have been favourable, and with 5 star ratings, BUT I watched it enthralled! It is a modern version , if that means it was believable, the singing was first class, the acting was better than many operas I have seen, and was thoroughly enjoyable! If you are considering getting a disc of CARMEN, then this is the one to go for!
This is a very passionate excellent production. Pappano is completely in charge and highly effective. Kaufmann at his very best. . The " flower aria " immensely moving. His Don Jose is more convincing than many that i have heard. Antonacci is a really wild gypsy woman, well sung and well acted. Ildebrando d'Arcangelo a very macho Torrero. Norah Amsellem sings adequately. What I did not like at all was the stage set. ! that was extraordinately bad and unimaginative. The scene in the moiuntains was ridiculous ! I loved the music and the simging so much that I simply closed my eyes to this short coming, but it was totally unacceptable.