Musically, the production is excellent. Béatrice Uria-Monzon is a smart…Roberto Alagna is in excellent voice, too, offering honeyed tones that never disguise his passion or his potential for violence…Erwin Schrott is an impressively self-confident Escamillo…The other roles are well handled-and Marc Piollet and the orchestra provide a high-contrast palette, with plenty of detail and vitality. Sound is first-rate, as is clarity of the picture; and the patient and luxurious camerawork avoids the hyperactivity that mars so many opera videos these days. All in all, then, a very good Carmen… (Fanfare)
With Anna Caterina Antonacci and Jonas Kaufmann bringing rare erotic intensity to the drama of Carmen and Don Jose, this Royal Opera production is a darkly passionate reading of one of the world's favourite operas. Under the baton of Music Director Antonio Pappano, Bizet's irresistible score drives the tragedy forward - powering a landmark staging of a musical masterpiece.
Behind the near-mythical figure of the emancipated woman, the dazzling spectacle of the group tableau and vibrant seduction of the Spain of dreams, all its authenticity and brilliance have been restored to the world's most performed opera in the opera house where it was first performed in 1875. A veritable back to the origins for the masterpiece by Georges Bizet, who died at the age of thirty six, only a few weeks after finishing his controversial work, the tremendous success of which he was ever to know. By presenting it here in a brand-new version with instruments of the period, in an endeavour to rekindle the original musical and theatrical flame, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Adrian Noble have reconstructed the unusual movement of the chorus and difficult dialogue between characters as a human, carnal tragedy.
After three decades of Carmen in opéra comique-style, each one offering its own brand of authenticity, here we are back in the 19th century with the old grand opera version, with the Guiraud recitatives, tacked on after Bizet’s death. This was the way Carmen was usually performed until the 1950s, when producers and scholars started to reconsider the original.
This is a problem recording, and even fans of Leonard Bernstein and Marilyn Horne will find it odd. The Maestro's tempi are weirdly slow, Horne sings the role note-by-note rather than phrase-by-phrase, and when she finally does decide to emote, in the final scene, she sounds like she's gone loony. James McCracken was an artist with a huge but unappealing voice who also had brains and power, but he's no delight for the ear.