The Broomhill Company's Carmen in South Africa

By Amis, John | Musical Opinion, December 2001 | Go to article overview

The Broomhill Company's Carmen in South Africa


Amis, John, Musical Opinion


OPERA REVIEWS

What does a good performance of , good singers and dramatic truth, Well, in sixty years I have seen at least that number of performances but the one at Wilson's Music Hall on 26 July came damn near the top. For dramatic truth it was the tops; the singers were mostly good and the performers, mostly African, acted within an inch of their lives. Jonathan Miller was present and he agreed about the dramatic truth. Here was a Carmen you could believe in, not just a seductive bitch but a real person capable of being an untrustworthy animal but also capable of being a real friend to her mates. Jose was not officer material but a raw, simple chap, capable of sudden violence. The Director, Mark Dornford-- May, had many brilliant ideas about the opera; one of the best was, after the Flower Song and Carmen's rejection of her lover, to have Jose so maddened by that rejection that he starts to throttle Carmen; this makes his murderous attack in the last Act that much more credible.

The Company comes from the Spier Estate outside Cape Town and is bound up with our Broomhill Company. For two months they gave a Season at Wilton's Music Hall with two shows, an African version of the Chester Miracle Plays and this Carmen. Playing the title-role was Pauline Malafane, unbelievably still a student yet the Carmen of my dreams, dangerous almost lovable and sexy. Whether she could project in a larger venue than Wilton's, which holds three hundred people at the most, is debatable but she certainly came across strongly, every movement of her face, eyes and body hit the audience for six in an auditorium with a broad apron stretching right into the auditorium. The Josh was Sandile Kamile, proud, chubby and powerful, whose flexible voice portrays a personality bewitched by Carmen yet also clearly fond of his Micaela, sung by Pauline du Plessis with her very musical, good strong voice; indeed a little stronger than necessary. …

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