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Bizet: Carmen [Blu-ray] [2011]


Price: £29.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Béatrice Uria-Monzon, Roberto Alagna, Erwin Schrott, Marina Poplavskaya, Eliana Bayón
  • Format: Classical, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, German, Catalan, Mandarin Chinese, Korean
  • Region: All Regions (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: C Major
  • DVD Release Date: 26 Sep 2011
  • Run Time: 155 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005E8VBAG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 125,823 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Fantastic cast with Roberto Alagna, Erwin Schrott, Marina Poplavskaya, Béatrice Uria-Monzon This prestigious 2011 production from the Gran Teatre del Liceu was staged by the world famous and highly controversial stage director Calixto Bieito, admired for his raw and evocative stagings.

Review

Bieito´s muted Carmen brings a fresh vision. --Wall Street Journal

Roberto Alagna was on top form. --Opera

What really carries the drama is the performance of Roberto Alagna in glorious voice and looking as fit as a fiddle.***** --Opera Now,Dec'11

Roberto Alagna has always had a certain Mad Max to his temperment that,combined with his Italinate lyric tenor,has made him one of the best Don Joses in the business. --Gramophone,Jan'12

Bieito undeniably draws committed and detailed performances from his distinguished principals, as well as those undertaking smaller roles… The conductor Marc Piollet offers clean and stylish musicianship and the Liceu players are bright-toned and light on their feet. --Opera, May'12

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Oct 2011
Verified Purchase
Carmen is Carmen, as far as I'm concerned, and personally, it's not an opera I would go out of my way to see again. Fantastic opera, brilliantly scored in a way that is full of life and passion, consummately operatic, but done to death, to the extent that it's almost become a cliché, removed and detached from whatever real human emotions used to underlie it. Consequently, until the recent Bizet: Carmen in 3D production from the Royal Opera House, I hadn't seen or really listened to the opera in about ten years, and Francesca Zambello's conventional and unimaginative staging for that production reminded me why. The production itself wasn't bad, but there was just nothing new in it.

From the standpoint of the casting alone however, there's plenty of good reasons to like this production, which has the right kind of blend that is needed in terms of experience for the two principal roles and up-and-coming young singers for the supporting roles. With Roberto Alagna and mezzo-soprano Beatrice Uria-Monzon, both native French, the roles of Don José and Carmen are not just in reliable hands, but both invest a great deal into the interpretation, singing wonderfully and maintaining a strong presence on the stage. Erwin Schrott is a good Escamillo, again another fine actor willing to push interpretation as well as possessing a fine baritone voice - but this is a minor role for his talent. Marina Poplovskaya finds the right blend of freshness, innocence and purity that the opera needs as Michaëla.
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I must say that I have never been a huge fan of 'Carmen'. Its an opera I would never go out of my way to see and this is the first recording I have ever owned of it. I can't really say why...perhaps its just too familiar and too obvious. I have also never seen any of Calixto Bieito's controversial opera productions before and I was keen to sample one and, somehow, 'Carmen' seemed the obvious choice. If anyone can throw new light on this opera then surely Bieito can! The result was, as you can see from the rating, I absolutely loved it.

Right from the opening bars of the overture there was an energy that lasted throughout the whole piece. The staging is minimal and Bieito really relies on his principals, chorus and extra performers to make the show come alive. The crowd scenes are especially well managed and effective. Perhaps to those who have seen many of Bieito's shows, the ideas here are cliched in themselves but to me they were all fresh and I thought he captured the heat, brutality and sensuality of Bizet's opera perfectly. The action is updated, I believe, to Spain in the 1970s but I suspect this is fairly fluid as the smugglers would not have been able to lay their hands on such things as flat screen televisions and Apple Macs in those days! The costumes are grubby but timeless (except maybe for Micaela's lurid outfit in the first act) and the controversial battered cars serve their purpose well - replacing the donkeys I assume! Of the principals, the weakest, in my opinion, was the Escamillo of Erwin Schrott and I firmly believe that it was because of how he chose to sing the role - he went for dramatic effect, sneering and rolling his 'R's for all they were worth. By contrast, Marina Poplavskaya sang Micaela pretty straight and was all the more effective for it.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. John A. Coulson on 30 Jun 2012
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The recipe for a great opera production on video poses quite a few more challenges than the same work on audio only. To be a great success the operatic video must:

1. Have outstanding singing in all roles
2. Demonstrate convincing acting from the singers
3. Be accompanied by excellent orchestral playing
4. Be well produced with appropriate costuming and décor
5. Be artistically photographed with good lighting
6. Be technologically first class with audio recording

I'll go backwards in the above list for this production of Carmen.

* The audio is fine - no quibbles there

* It is appropriately and artistically photographed with good lighting

* The opera is appropriately performed in Barcelona, the original setting for the story. However, on the production side we face the increasingly thorny issue of "modernizing" the décor and some of the presentation with the result being labeled "Eurotrash". Sadly this production does fall into that camp. It is not excessive but one must question if AK47s, old model Mercedes cars on stage etc were really necessary to better convey the story of the opera. I guess the reasoning behind all this is to supposedly add a "new look" to an otherwise traditional production but I fail to see how equipping the soldiers with modern weapons in the opening scene and supplying the smugglers with old Mercedes get-away cars improved the message. I just find it distracting and inappropriate for the time and setting of the plot. Some of the costuming was also a bit off key to me but nothing too way out to get excited about although some might find a naked toreador strutting around the stage offputting.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Ai No Corrida 7 Oct 2011
By Keris Nine - Published on Amazon.com
Carmen is Carmen, as far as I'm concerned, and personally, it's not an opera I would go out of my way to see again. Fantastic opera, brilliantly scored in a way that is full of life and passion, consummately operatic, but done to death, to the extent that it's almost become a cliché, removed and detached from whatever real human emotions used to underlie it. Consequently, until the recent Bizet: Carmen in 3D production from the Royal Opera House, I hadn't seen or really listened to the opera in about ten years, and Francesca Zambello's conventional and unimaginative staging for that production reminded me why. The production itself wasn't bad, but there was just nothing new in it.

From the standpoint of the casting alone however, there's plenty of good reasons to like this production, which has the right kind of blend that is needed in terms of experience for the two principal roles and up-and-coming young singers for the supporting roles. With Roberto Alagna and mezzo-soprano Beatrice Uria-Monzon, both native French, the roles of Don José and Carmen are not just in reliable hands, but both invest a great deal into the interpretation, singing wonderfully and maintaining a strong presence on the stage. Erwin Schrott is a good Escamillo, again another fine actor willing to push interpretation as well as possessing a fine baritone voice - but this is a minor role for his talent. Marina Poplovskaya finds the right blend of freshness, innocence and purity that the opera needs as Michaëla.

As good as each of the cast are in their own right, the famous arias as good here as any interpretations I've heard - Alagna's 'La fleur que tu m'avais jetée' is terrific - they work wonderfully together and it's the duets and ensembles that make the biggest impression, presenting a refreshing new perspective on the opera. The orchestra and the performance are also superb. It's everything you expect Carmen to be, but with enough character, verve and energy of its own, and a willingness to explore the dynamic that make this something more vibrant and alive, (the HD sound reproduction on the Blu-ray is also outstanding), the music seeming once again to be organically part of the drama rather than illustrating a bunch of clichéd routines. It's a long time since I've heard this particular opera sounding so fresh.

How much of this is down to the stage production is debatable. Other than modernising the period setting however, the essence of the drama isn't touched or played around with, the emphasis shifted slightly perhaps to emphasise the masculine aspect of the opera and the culture of machismo (although a full-frontal naked bullfighter might be too much for the more sensitive traditionalist). Even if it were just for the fact of stripping away all those old routines and hackneyed gypsy imagery, Calixto Bieto's production, often minimal, the stage permanently giving the impression of a bullring, at least forces the viewer to focus once again on the characters and how they express themselves through Bizet's score and the libretto, and that alone is a bit of a revelation. Yes, everyone knows that Carmen is all about jealousy, lust and Latin passions, but removing the set-pieces goes some way towards restoring the balance of the other more noble aspects the theme of love beyond all reason ("Love is a gypsy child who knows nothing of the law") in the unconditional familial love on the part of Don José's mother and also in the purity of Michaëla's love for him. Whether it's obvious or not (and all the better if it's not), I'd say that the production and direction is certainly instrumental in achieving this. This is a great Carmen.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Very good 17 Jan 2014
By Susana Pitchon - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I loved the singers, the mise en scene is weird though. I would recommend this Carmen. A beautiful version. Martin, Susana's hubby.
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