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4.6 out of 5 stars45
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 31 January 2012
"Carmen" shocked audiences when first performed. Today we tend to be served up with the colourful gypsy, the jolly smugglers and the idealistic view of a romantic old Spanish town. This performance reminds us why audiences were shocked. This Carmen is a real slut, and her power over men is destructive. There is nothing jolly about the smugglers, reminding me of an updated production I saw some years ago in which they were translated into very unpleasant drug dealers. Maybe D'Arcangelo isn't the most charismatic Escamillo, but Michaela is sung with a strong beauty that doesn't make her a wet character. However, it is the two leads that steal it, as they have to. Antonacci has a real grip on her portrayal of Carmen. It's not so much sexy as semi-pornographic. This Carmen uses the word 'love' but has no idea what it is. What she has is power. You can well believe she will die rather than give into Don José.
What really impresses in this opera is Kaufmann's portrayal. To often, José is a drip. Kaufmann's José is a rounded character and you can see why Carmen goes after him, why she has to work hard on him and why, when he falls in love with her and is then rejected, the only end is tragedy - but not the tragedy of a weak man.
This isn't a pretty production but it is very true to the original concept. Four stars because i agree with those who say sound balance is slightly flawed. I can't wait for the ROH to release the Kaufmann/Gheorgiu/Terfel Tosca which was fabulous on the big screen.
You can take it for granted that the singing is of a very high quality.
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on 11 April 2009
Astonishing performances from the two central leads makes this the most dramatically impressive performance on DVD, in my opinion. If you are looking for musicality and dramatic intensity of the highest order - which lifts this old warhorse out of the realm of sentimental cliche into a sphere akin to tragedy - then this is the one. The set is a very striking burnished orange and gold, the costumes have an authentic period look stripped of any glitzy romanticism. This may not be to everyone's taste but I found the overall effect to be very satisfying dramatically. Every now and then a production comes along that enables you to experience a classic piece as if for the first time. This is what Kaufman (the finest Don Jose on stage today) and Antonacci have done for me with this Carmen, to the point where I barely noticed any limitations of the production.
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on 26 December 2010
Thank goodness we have a well acted and realistic Carmen after so many uneventful productions during the last twenty years. I am not a fan of messing about with location and time span of great classics on stage. Composers or writers had a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve and we should be able with modern theatre technology to do great classics justice. The heat and mediterranian passion that Bizet envisaged has by and large been brought to life in this production. All the leading characters are all accomplished actors as well as pasionate singers however I still have a few reservations. I am not a fan of the current idea of using static chorus numbers. This is dramatic opera not Oratorio.Also the one moveable set on stage leaves a lot to be desired. It looks like a poor entry at the Chelsea flower show and takes the edge off the realism. Why cant the stage settings be as real as the acting? Surely it doesnt cost that much more to construct a realistic Spanish town square? All this taken aside I was still swept along by the central characters dedication especialy Kaufman and Antonacci. She is so coniving and degenerate and he, beneath his initial innocence shows a growing darker side until his final pushing out of desperation to commit murder. The Orchestra is pushed along at an average pace by Papano but doesnt score any outstanding points or create new ground. The original small ammount of spoken dialogue is retained but I ,Myself have always preferred the sung recitatives as I feel they carry the continuity much better. The opening number of the fourth act (Chorus number ) has been ommitted but then , normally this would be a very animated stage action number and as I have already mentioned, most chorus numbers seem frozen to the spot. All in all though, extremely enjoyable.
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on 14 October 2011
This is a really well acted Carmen. There's very little standing around on stage belting out the big numbers that everyone knows. Kaufmann in particular inhabits the role of Don Jose - and is very moving. Add to that his extraordinary tenor voice which sounds like a baritone and you have something special. The relationship with Antonacci as Carmen is very intense and erotically charged. The Escamillo and Micaela don't quite reach the same standards and the staging, like most opera at Covent Garden, is a bit perfunctory. But this is a real performance of Carmen which brings the old warhorse back to life.
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on 9 March 2009
This is a thrilling and sultry performance of one of the most popular operas in the repertoire. Antonacci looks sexy, as the gypsy should, and sings very well, with just the right amount of smoky darkness in her voice. Amsellen has a very nice lyric soprano and portrays a determined Micaëla. D'Arcangelo may not be singing many Escamillos -he doesn't seem to be comfortable in the role-, but sounds good and has a very handsome presence. But the real star of the evening is Jonas Kauffman, in a spellbinding performance of Don Jose, beautifully sung, combining sweet and desperate tones, dramatically involved and fullfilling all the demands of the role as no other tenor in living memory. This is a tenor to watch. A true artist. The production looks messy at times but is not bad. The orchestra plays beautifully. The HD picture and the sound are both excellent. A Carmen to treasure.
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on 29 August 2012
Carmen has never appealed to me mainly because of the instinctive abhorrence I feel for the qualities of the main character and the effort taken by the composer and the librettista to potray a vile, selfish and vulgar creature (a female Don Giovani you could say) as a fearless fatalist who loves her freedom. However, maybe they couldn't do otherwise. The opera is based on a book that I haven't read. To me, Carmen is a monster, an honest one, someone can claim, but still and always a monster. Don Jose is the poor guy who falls for the beast and suffers the consequences. If you really think about it, the opera is really about Don Jose and should have been named after him. It is his misfortune and downswing that the music and the spectator follow. Don Jose is therefore the main character and Jonas Kaufmann understands this fully. He is without doubt a very intelligent and gifted singing actor. So, this is the portrayal of a romantic man that makes a fatal mistake and not the portrayal of a milksop, which is what we usually get. Jonas Kaufmann gives a performance to be remembered. The guy has it all: looks, acting skills, voice. His voice rises to prominence in the French repertoire (see also his magnificent Werther). It is not a limber instrument and that is the reason why it can sound quite expressionless in Italian operas. Anna Caterina Antonacci is undoubtedly a sexy, convincing Carmen. This on its own is an achievement. It is not at all easy to find an opera singer to convince you that she is capable of leading a man astray. To sum it all up this the greatest Carmen you can get. I am giving it 4 stars because I find the ROH production somewhat cursory. That having been said, it stays well away of any annoying modernism (Thank you God!).
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on 15 October 2009
The stars of this production are superbly matched. Anna Caterina Antonacci, a passionate, erotic Carmen, and Jonas Kaufmann a truly tragic Don Jose, whose vocal and acting abilities in this production made it impossible to glance away in case I missed something. The always wonderful Ildebrando d'Arcangelo is the perfect Escamillo and Norah Ansellem a Micaela who manages to make the part of Micaela perfectly believable. The Orchestra under Conductor Antonio Pappano, are simply brilliant. This is a production that is in my opinion well worth watching again and again.
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on 2 April 2015
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.
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on 24 November 2011
The stage is small compared to The Mets grand production but it is nicely done. The chorus are beautifully crisp and clear, and the cigarette girls about as seductive as they come. They also have a good time brawling, it looked like fun.
Antonacci is more lyrical than other Carmens, but it works well for me.
I like the entre act between 1 & 2, it is a bit different. Kaufmann is the highlight of this production, he is far more credible than any other Don Jose that I have seen and heard, his singing is fine and his passionate acting is great.
Amsellem is also very good as Micaela, she gives a good representation of the youth of the character, this is lacking in many other productions.
This is the first production where Lillas Pastia is a lady, doesn't seem to matter. When Escamillo arrives in the cafe on horseback it is quite a suprise, but his hard edged baritone is not quite to my liking.
In the ensemble The Smugglers, Frasquita, abd Mercedes sing a fine ensemble.
Act three has a few nice touches including absailing down the cliff.
In act four the parade is extremely good considering the size of stage. Once again at the end Kaufmann proves himself to be the most creditable Do Jose.
The illustrated booklet is very informative, with timings, synopsis, and a double page write up on Bizet and the early chequered history of Carmen.
I recommend this particularly for Kauffman.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 August 2011
The Blu-ray did not disappoint in terms of Hi Definition picture quality, every drop of sweat on Jonas Kaufmann's brow being clearly visible. The cast were all superb, Kaufmann being the star, Anna Caterina Antonacci was a very believable Carmen nearly but not quite as good as Maria Ewing (that's why I gave it 4 stars) A little gem of a performance came from Norah Amsellem as Micaëla, a lovely performance.
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