Carmen, Glyndebourne Festival. East Sussex
Thursday 10 July 2008
It is significant that the curtain is already raised and we spend Bizet's festive prelude gazing at Michael Vale's grubby, industrialised set. This back passage of Seville is about as romantic as Bizet's opera is Spanish, and it sets the tone of David McVicar's down, dirty and dangerous staging. Here's a Carmen where people shout, spit, shag, stomp and clap as passionately as they sing. There really is no way out of the Bullring. Carmen leaves her blood there, on the wall like a love token.
Revisiting McVicar's production, it's the visceral aspects of the piece that take hold. How rare are productions of Carmen with a sense of real urgency in survival, where the singing and dancing and mating carry the unmistakable desperation of living for that moment only. It helps that McVicar and Vale pack a lot of humanity into very small spaces. At the bar in Act II, lusty living spills over in a fug of cigarette smoke. Even before the curtain is up you can hear the voices working themselves into a frenzy. It's all blood, sweat, and tears.
It is for Carmen. And there's a lot to enjoy in Tania Kross's performance. She's quite a handful, in every sense. Perhaps the voice is a bit too plummy – I missed the insinuation, the attitude, in those nasally French vowels and I'm not sure I ever really believed in her wildness of spirit. When this Carmen sniffs her armpits, it's for show, not for sex. But she's game, and she's feisty, and she grows with the evening – mainly because she's playing against a Don José who is genuinely more dangerous than she is.
Brandon Jovanovich puts in a storming performance as the weak corporal with anger-management problems. Even as he's crooning sweet-nothings to Carmen in the "Flower Song", his grainy, vibrant voice poses a threat. By Act III his top notes are positively psychotic. He even looks different, his handsome demeanour eaten away by anger.
Only Micaëla might have saved him, but she was always too late. McVicar has her witness both his first and last betrayal and, in Kate Royal's beautifully centred and sung performance, it is she who shoulders all his heartache. There's plenty of that, too, in Stéphane Denève's intensely long-breathed conducting. This is an evening where Carmen improvises her castanet rhythms on Don José's body. If you don't believe me, start phoning for returns.
To 31 August (01273 813 813)
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Arizona shooting: Gun instructor accidentally killed by nine-year-old girl with Uzi
- 2 Paul Scholes: Manchester City were so good against Liverpool I felt like turning the television off
- 3 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 4 Homer Simpson has taken the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he has
- 5 Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Great British Bake Off, episode 4, review: Heat gets turned up – and Iain goes into meltdown
Doctor Who lesbian kiss sparks Ofcom complaints over 'weird lesbian-lizard perv trip'
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Emmys 2014: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Steven Moffat win big awards for Sherlock
Homer Simpson has taken the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he has
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Jeremy Clarkson is a cultural tumour and needs to be removed, says comedian Frankie Boyle
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
- < Previous
- Next >