This is Carmen writ large in a spectacular production at Earls Court, and brilliantly succeeds as such, extending Carmen to an audience that would not otherwise watch opera.
However this is not for dedicated opera lovers, the vast cast does nothing to add to the dramatic meaning of the work, (in fact it detracts). Sound was obviously a major challenge and although exciting feels manipulated and compressed (I was listening in stereo on AKG K240 Studio Professional headphones) and the voices (particularly the male singers) sound synthetic with a bright edge.
Maria Ewing is a superb Carmen, her first entrance and performance of the Habanera is electrifying, and I am frustrated that her performance is embedded in a setting that in every other respect is routine and leaves me cold.
However well worth watching for Maria Ewing who appears to revel in the occasion.