Well, this recording is controversial.
I own at least 6 other sets of Carmen recordings. This one is unique in the sense that -
(1) Kozena is not born to sing this role, since her fach is inapt for the low tessitura, but she manages to depict, by her inflections and nuances, a Carmen that is more wilful and hard-headed than sexy and wild;
(2) Kaufmann sings most probably the best Don Jose for the past decade, Roberto Alagna included;
(3) Rattle's reading of the score places emphases on the despair more than the struggle, and one hears, almost at the outset, the despairs in the respective roles - Carmen, Jose, Escamillo, Micaela.
Kozena's Havanaise is not a mere display of sexual allure - it is an outcry of loneliness. Similarly her Avez-vous quelque chose a repondre? and Pres des remparts de Seville are a lonely heart's outbursts, with her slightly subdued yet nuanced renditions. The real deal of Kozena's Carmen lies in Act III's En vain pour eviter, forming the pillar of Kozena's characterisation.
In a similar veim, the dark bass baritone Kostas Smoriginas's Escamillo is a doomed figure despite the apparent glamour and excitement - he would never win his Carmen despite his aspirations and challenges to Jose.
In yet a similar vein, Rattle's choice for Micaela in Genia Kuhmeier is a cool and aloof 'onlooker' to the saga of Don Jose/Carmen/Escamillo than the involved jilted lover.
The passionate tenor Jonas Kaufmann sung a virtually perfect Jose in this recording, and his passion contrasts striking with the relatively cool castings of Carmen, Micaela and Escamillo. Just savour his Va-t'en...Tu ma disde la suivre!
This is definitely not a conventional 'Carmen' that one would wish for. The non-inclusion of libretto in a deluxe setting further adds to the fact that this purported production of a Carmen is aimed at conoisseurs instead of newbies.