Magazine article Opera Canada

Carmen

Magazine article Opera Canada

Carmen

Article excerpt

Carmen is Carmen. Does it matter how it is done? L'Opera de Montreal ended its season by fielding a strong cast in a distinctive new production. With Bernard Labadie in the pit, this was another testament to his successful direction of the company.

I render this judgement in spite of a lamentable relocation of the action to what was described in press releases as Latin America in the 1940s. To what end? No political comment was perceptible here. But after a decade or two of postmodern Carmens, I think we all lust for the real thing--a thrilling drama set amid traditional Andalusian trappings. This strange amalgam of graffiti, colonial flats and hard-to-pinpoint retro costumes looked like a misbegotten West Side Story.

All the same, the performances registered as authentic. In the title role, Israeli mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham established her independence with a deep voice and sultry manner. OdeM Atelier alumnus Gordon Gietz has developed into a handsome vocal welterweight, believably young as Don Jose and capable of projecting desperation in the final act without strain. He also produced a lyrical Flower Song while getting horizontal with Carmen. …

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