Carmen is the opera that has the lot – including some of the very greatest tunes ever written. It is very hard to believe that it was not successful when it first opened. When it launched at the Opéra Comique, it was to poor reviews where the audience was shocked by all the sex and goings on and not enthused enough to make it a hit. Twenty years after Bizet’s death however the opera had made its way into people’s hearts and has remained one of the most popular of all operas. The Toreador Song, The Habanera and Don José’s unforgettable La Fleur que tu m’avais jetée are among some of the most exciting, sensuous and beautiful of all operatic numbers.
The lead roles have long attracted the very greatest singers. One of the finest of all productions took place at the Edinburgh International Festival in the late 1970’s with a cast including Teresa Berganza and Placido Domingo and the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado. More recently Jonas Kaufmann, the most exciting and charismatic tenor of today has taken on the role at Covent Garden.
Perhaps one of the most interesting takes on Carmen took place as part of Glasgow 1990. The director Peter Brook brought his Carmen from the Theatre du Bouffes du Nord in Paris. Scaled down, it only used 15 players, a small cast and no chorus. It was presented on a minimalist set at Tramway which had just become a performance venue having just ceased to be Glasgow’s transport museum. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra provided the musicians and the effect was transcendent. The three-week run sold out every night and those who saw it will never forget it.
An evening with this opera is as enjoyable as it gets, and no matter how often you hear the great numbers they always feel fresh and exciting. Enjoy!
Russian State Opera presents Carmen
Tue 2 Oct 2018: 7.30pm Perth Concert Hall