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Modernism gone mad
on 20 March 2014
I watched this on sky arts, glad I never bought it or are likely to. By the way some of the reviews which speak of its excellence seem to be fir other production.
The initial set is a phone box, soldiers march about singing about watching a crowd who are not there, while a chap in a loincloth runs round the stage and collapses from exhaustion. The singing and the voices are fine. The children mocking the soldiers are damp squibs. The chorus of cigarette girls dressed in the same overalls coats sing fine. Highlight is the soldiers vandalizing the telephone box. The soldiers are in modern uniforms, as is Alagna, who of course does sing well. Poplavskaya sings beautifully while dressed as a psychedelic tourist. Our heroine Uria-Monzon is a throaty mezzo, her voice does not gel with with me, but this is a matter of taste, even as a modern Carmen she is scarcely credible, but the lack of atmosphere from the spartan set does not help.
In act 2 Lillas Pastias bar is an open stage, a car arrives and Carmen and her friends get out and sing, a christmas tree and a deckchair are the props. When Carmen sings of the passionate dancing there is not any, but the orchestra are passionate enough. Escamillo arrives without entourage, but the soldiers chorus turns up. Erwen sings fine. Don Jose and Carmen having simulated sex does not exactly enhance the scene. Highlight the soldiers vandalise the car.
In the overture to act three a chap strips naked in front of a cut out of a bull, then runs off. Some cars arrive with luggage racks.Best bit Poplavskia aria. There is some visual improvment in this act but of doubtful relevance.
The prelude to the last act has the exciting spectacle of soldiers doubling as sceneshifters, they dismantle the bull.
Instead of the grand parade a crowd applaud a sunbathing girl in a bikini. they all rush frontstage to sing about matadors and picadors who are presumably in the orchestra pit.
At least shrock is dressed as a matador for the duet. When Don Jose hides in the crowd he is in the audience. It is with some relief that when He cuts Carmens throat plenty of mock blood flows.
To some up, if it had been a concert performance it could have been quite good, but Uria-Monzon has a long way to go dramatically and vocally.