Customer Review

9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perfunctory performance, poor 3-D experience, 23 Sep 2011
This review is from: Bizet: Carmen in 3D [Blu-ray] [2010] (Blu-ray)
3-D movies have so far failed to make much of an impact at the cinema, but is there perhaps a future for the format in home-viewing, and more specifically in opera? On the evidence of Carmen in 3-D, the results so far are unconvincing. Opera already has an extra dimension that cinema and theatre don't traditionally have in their acting and storytelling, and that is the expression of sentiments, actions and themes through the music and the singing. There is nothing lacking in opera - and if anything this 3-D production of Carmen confirms this - that needs to be brought out by any other means than the interpretation of the performers under the direction of the conductor and stage director.

Francesca Zambello's stage direction for this production of Carmen is in this respect fairly conventional, working with the opera and playing to its traditional strengths, a composite almost of every cliché associated with the opera's vision of Spanish gypsy culture, but not really having anything new to contribute to it, no modern reinterpretation and - I suppose we should be thankful for this at least - nothing added to make it more accessible for either television viewing or 3-D cinema projection. The pace of Act 1 opts for slow and sultry, with gypsy girls aplenty, legs spread, arms akimbo, skirts hitched up and much heaving cleavage on show during la Havanaise - "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle", but the real expression of the underlying passions and temptations are better expressed in the music and singing, and here it just feels lifeless with a tempo that drags.

There is little wrong with the singing of Christine Rice and Bryan Hymel in the principal roles, but whether they felt the pressure of performing before cameras that get in much closer than usual in filmed opera - although there was no toning down of theatre mannerisms - the performances feel perfunctory, never getting beneath the surface of whatever dark passions drive the characters to their tragic fates. Maija Kovalevska in the role of Micaela however successfully brings out the balancing dimension of the opera in her Act 3 "Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante", showing that there are more noble sentiments and a more pure love can exist, but that it doesn't really stand a chance against the all-consuming lust and the jealousy that fires Don José and Carmen. If the lust doesn't come across convincingly, the painful jealousy that is going to lead to the tragic conclusion is there also to some degree in Act 3 of this production, but it's too little and too late when the connection that brings Don José and Carmen together hasn't been sufficiently established.

I'm not sure how this will come across for home viewing, but at a cinema showing, the RealD 3-D process was extremely disappointing. The most effective use of the 3-D effects were backstage at the start of the opera, where the lighting is strong enough to set figures in the foreground against the background, and in the opening shot on stage when an imprisoned Don José stretches out his hands pleadingly - one of the few original touches that indicate that both deaths foretold in the Carmen's card-reading come to pass. Elsewhere, backgrounds were black or too dark, and figures were not close enough in the foreground to achieve anything like the same effect, save for the very occasional close-up arrangement, and only one or two obvious attempts to project images towards the camera. The 3-D process also creates a very artificial shimmery digital image that blurred excessively in movement when I saw it projected, and even when static, failed to produce a sharp or detailed enough image. It may work better in a home-viewing environment, but even so, there are better versions of Carmen out there that look much better in regular High Definition.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Oct 2011 14:40:18 BDT
Bruce says:
It's a shame that the first ever Opera in 3D, only has one review from somebody who doesn't even own the Blu ray disc!

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Nov 2011 19:56:47 GMT
Pianissimo says:
I agree. I recently bought this set but have only had the chance to skim through it so far. From what I have seen so far I have no quibbles apart from the lack of scenery in this production which is poor in comparison to Levine's Met version or Kleiber's from Vienna (I think).

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jan 2012 09:04:14 GMT
Bruce says:
I have now had a chance to see the actual Blu Ray disc on my home 3D set up and there is no problem with the 3D - no shimmer etc. - but I'm afraid I have to agree with the original reviewer that this is a dull and lacklustre performance in a dull setting.

I found the picture quality (and 3D) to be very high - but this made it worse for me, as it gave the impression of taking place in a large school hall - with its bare wooden floor much in view. Also what little scenery there was, showed up as tatty with ragged edges.

Very disappointing!
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