on 4 December 2011
This 1985 production stands up very well. The opening street scene has some nice details. The costumes are very good.
With the entry of Marie McLaughlan she establishes herself as the Micaela that all others should ascribe to. No other artiste captures the age of the girl as this girl does. She can also produce some very sweet notes. The childrens chorus are worthy of attention. The cigarette girls are sultry and smokey, they, when bickering and scuffling and harassing the guards look very realistic.
When Maria Ewing appears she proves to not only have the voice, but to be a superb actress, she means every word she sings.
Barry McCauley as Jose does not seem at home in the role, and sounds strained at times.
In act two the Lillias Pasta set is pretty good, the gypsy dance is well executed, and Ewing can produce a nice line in twirls.
The Escamillo of David Holloway is elegant and is passable vocally. In their confrontation Ewing acts her socks off, McCauley is as animated as a shop dummy.
Depraz as Zuniga is worth a mention singing and acting well in this cameo role.
Perhaps the highlight of this act is the quintet of Carmen, her friends and the smugglers. They have a great combination of voices.
In act three Collier and Rigby do a wonderful interpretation of fortune telling, they both have fine voices. McLaughlan again proves she is the outstanding Micaela. The fight between Jose and Escamillo is not bad but I have seen better.
Act four starts with a well executed scene of organised chaos in which the children play an enthusiastic part. The parade has quite good costumes for the Matadors.
In the final confrontation between Jose and Carmen, McCauley does improve a bit but is prone to wandering lost around the stage. Maria with eyes flashing defiance accentuates his limitations.
To summarise Ewing is the best Carmen of all six versions that I have seen. This is worth owning for her alone. Similarly McLaughlan is streets ahead of all other Micaelas. In every version Frasquita and Mercedes have superb proponents. If you want the best Escamillo, try The Met with Samuel Ramey. In truth though all versions have excellent Carmens.
Synopsis and chapters are printed on the inside cover in the absence of an accompanying booklet.