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Carmen: The Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD]  [NTSC]
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Don José is a guard who begins an affair with the tempestuous Carmen. He is imprisoned and loses his job, then flees with her to the mountains. When the relationship starts to break down José refuses to acknowledge it, and will not leave even when he gets news that his mother is dying. Carmen meanwhile has taken up with the bullfighter Escamillo. The performers are Agnes Baltsa, Jose Carreras, Leona Mitchell, Samuel Ramey, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Chorus and Ballet. James Levine conducts.
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Top Customer Reviews
But the performance contains fantastic performances from all 4 principals. Mitchell is a sweet innocent, if slightly nervous Michaela on what was her Met debut; Ramey a flamboyantly virile, wonderfully sung Escamillo; Carreras is maybe not your ideal Don Jose, and can be wooden but sings beautifully throughout. However the real star is the great Agnes Baltsa - a hugely dramatic, fantastically sung performance at the peak of her career.
The orchestra under Levine play the familiar score in spectacular fashion - making the most of every moment.
This can be a hackneyed opera, suffering from over familiarity. But this is a performance that reminds you of precisely why it is still one of the most popular, and greatest, operas written.
I so loved Agnes Baltsa who sings this piece with technical delight. A wonderful cast and James Levine conducting has to be heard.
One of the first things I noticed watching this rendition of Carmen is the staging. The staging really captures its setting making you disappear in the world of Carmen.
Even though the staging is very impressive it is never hard on the eyes and does not distract.
Levine's conducting is superb and makes Bizet's masterpiece come to life.
Agnes Baltsa's Carmen is not only sung well but she also looks and acts the part.
Despite Carreras being a lyrical tenor and Don José being a Spinto tenor role, he really sings the part well and is one of my personal favorites for the role.
However, Samuel Ramey's Escamillo was the part that impressed me the most, the sheer power of his voice is incredible.
I have seen many a version of Carmen on DVD and I've seen it live as well. Thus far this Carmen is my favorite and I do not see that changing anytime soon.
Leona Mitchell has a beautiful voice, I love it, but it is a bit mature for Micaela.
Carreras does not seem quite at home acting Don Jose, but needless to say his singing is excellent.
In act two the Lillas Pastia cafe is well represented. The opening dance is quite exciting. A real treat ensues when we are introduced to Escamillo, this is Samuel Ramey at his best, excellent voice and creditable acting. The double act of the smugglers is well done.
In act three the mountain is up to standard, but for me the highlight is Myra Merrit and Diane Kesling whose voices blend beautifully over their fortune telling.
Act four has large buildings framing the set and a goodly crowd, the crowd parts to allow a Met style procession of the Matadors, it is of course impressive.
The dramatic ending is well done Baltsa resisting the passionate pleas of a still slightly stilted Carreras.
There is not one of my Carmens that I would do without, this is overall a good production.
The booklet has a creditable synopsis by scene and separate timings. It also has an array of photographs.
The first act set in particular is monumental but not in a nice way as the set is dark and rather forbidding and the costumes are largely in very sober colours. There is not enough sense of light to suggest that we are in sunny southern Spain in the two outer acts which are set in the street. There are several close-ups of the choruses in these two acts which only led this viewer to wonder if any of the chorus members had a clue as to what they were supposed to be doing. Several instances of chorus members looking into the camera so this aspect very amateurish and felt more like a dress rehearsal. Whilst the singing by the soloists is indeed fine -especially Carreras- I did not often feel that the acting amounted to anything more than some highly professional singers going through the motions. My advice would be to wait until somebody brings out a DVD of the current, Zeffirelli production.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love this just so special, my first wonderful beginning into opera!Published 9 months ago by S. Carter
Everything about this performance was exciting; the music, the staging and above all the performances.Published 14 months ago by Feige Ellenbogen
To replace video copy which has worn out from constant use.This is the dream team in Carmen,nobody does it better!Published 20 months ago by jubilate
This was a gift and I am told that it was exactly what was wanted.Published 22 months ago by Amazon Customer
Give it top rates for the singing, good acting.
Great presentation-.Staging is superb-
Levine is on top of his form........