Carmen - Opera North
18 May 2011 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Opera North’s daring and debauched new production of Carmen opens in Downtown Seville, in the US state of Ohio with the risible, cartoon-like ensemble blasting on to the stage during the Overture. From the off, it’s clear that this is not going to be like any other Carmen and, for the most part, this is a very bad thing indeed. Director, Daniel Kramer has staged his first for Opera North in a sleazy, hick town complete with corrupt cops, bawdy broads, low-lives, geriatric lunatics and sexy, skin-tight clothed cheerleaders. The ensemble's skill for inventing individual characters has detrimental consequences. With distractions as large as this, the plot is almost buried under a stampede of brightly coloured delinquents. Sung in its original French and at break-neck pace, Act One has the local police department flouncing about causing bother, providing a corrupt, sexist and lazy backdrop ready for the requisite introduction of Carmen. Played deftly by Sandra Piques Eddy, the title role is a brash, sexy, factory worker whose past experiences in the town have hardened her. Piques Eddy’s Carmen is terrifically pitched with Peter Auty’s José, here, played as a dumb, silly plaything for our protagonist is a nice touch as his character develops into something more sinister later. Act Two is at the town dance with Piñatas and trailers and here’s where confusion begins to grow. If Act One smacks of references to West Side Story we now have a dancer doing Michael Jackson’s Thriller and the lead singing karaoke and the effct is bewildering. Madonna’s famous conical bra and the lynching of the black Chief of Police, Zuniga, leaves not only a sour taste as the curtain goes down at the interval but also too many questions. It is crammed with too many ideas, none of which gel and, all the while, somewhere in this sickly, tacky box of sweets, there is Carmen and José running away together. Ah yes! Of course, the plot! Fortunately, Act Three finds its stride. Set in a quiet, snow covered forest the lovers and their friends run away together and by Act Four, the production is a treat with beautiful staging, brilliantly effective costume and a powerful swan song by the now all-grown-up and sophisticated Carmen. Camp, uncompromising and inventive the production may be and must, at least, be applauded for that. What a shame it’s at the cost of the narrative. - Lucia Cox Related Content Back to Northwest Homepage
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