Carmen Returns! - Carmen Live Review @ Royal Albert Hall (Kensington) - 26 Feb 2009
Photos: Michaela Volpe
Great were expectations of 'Carmen' returning to the prestigious Royal Albert Hall, telling from the full house attendance that night, there to witness the rendition of this timeless classic in the English language.
The four-act opera unfolded within the brilliantly recreated Iberian settings of Seville, staged on a round platform, which allowed for the exquisite flamenco, acrobatic, fire juggling and other routines of no less than 100 performers, whose costumes, although simple in design, through their colours, became characters of their own.
Despite the tragic fate of gypsy femme fatale, Carmen, _whose power of seduction leads her into the troublesome dilemma of having three men ( Don Jose, Lieutenant Zuniga and Matador Escamillo) seeking her love interest_, benefiting from the charisma of opera star Cristina Nassif and Louise Poole (who will take on the lead role in rotation throughout the run of this production), it must be said that Elizabeth Atherton's portrayal of lovelorn spinster, Micaela, stole the show with her vivid and engaging voice, which earned acclaim from the whole audience throughout! A performance which almost managed to console from the fact that the opera, sung in English, did at times lack precision in the performers' diction. A detail to some, but wasn't the point of having 'Carmen' translated into the English language to make her story intelligible to the largest number?... This said, musically, much credit goes to the ever-so perfectly synched Royal Philharmonic Orchestra!
After three hours of the universal crime of passion tale, somehow this 'Carmen' felt more like witnessing an extensive musical than an actual opera. But if the (much laudable) intentions behind it were to make this 'popular' story even more so, mission has been accomplished....