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Feeling alienated? Stab Carmen.

I know this is oooold news, but it’s just now that I’ve made time to think about Tcherniakov’s Aix Carmen (2017) and it’s holiday downtime.

Baranello’s (of Likely Impossibities) review is very evocative for those who have not seen this production for themselves. I feel both intrigued and a bit disoriented. It sounds like a cool idea for a production but somehow also rather fanciful. Usually I bitch about productions being underdeveloped but in this case it might be too well thought out, to the point where it leaves opera as musical entertainment in the dust and turns into a film that uses a very popular opera libretto as pop psychology prop (narrowly before MeToo).

It’s an unusual feeling, maybe somewhat similar to the recent Martina Franca extended-play Rinaldo (just found out Armida = Cher1). I want the action on stage to keep my attention focused by being novel and interesting but I also want to retain the feeling that I’m at the opera rather than in a play in play in play.

If it were a film I think I’d really enjoy it2 – I’m already in the frame of mind where the opera is called Don Jose, Incel extraordinaire.

ps:

The clinic’s staff is too excited to notice that the treatment didn’t work: The man they think they have cured is still locked in his own head, seemingly unable even to hear their praise, still believing he killed Carmen. (from the above mentioned review)

Don’t directors always like the trope of the self satisfied psychiatric staff? Heh.


  1. In the end it’s a gimmick, as the chosen pop stars didn’t have relationships that could translate to Rinaldo‘s plot. 
  2. Though Michael Fabiano looks too much like an operatic version of Wayne Rooney for me to get into his acting properly. 

Upcoming at ROH and Glyndebourne 2019

What with everything, I missed the Gen Sale for the return to Wagner at ROH (oh, no!). The Ring Cycle is back this Autumn, with Pappano at the helm. I may look up returns for Stemme’s sake (aka, best intentions). Otherwise, we have the following:

Solomon in concert with Zazzo in the title role

Verdi’s Requiem with Jamie Barton and Stoyanova; sold out at this point

Simon Boranegra… for those of strong Verdi constitution (but where there is Wagner, there is also Verdi and there will be another production for the hardcore Verdians soon; an opera we know and I love to make fun of, because a recent new production at ENO clearly was not enough)

Carmen and Hansel and Gretel for the mezzo-deprived; Dudnikova might be an interesting Carmen, I liked her Principessa de Bouillon.

Winter:

The Queen of Spades = must not forget

Traviata for the casual goer – it’s still the much loved production

Katya Kabanova – I’ll probably go

Così returns but don’t count me in

Insights Masterclass with soprano Angel Blue who’s doing a stint of Traviata this season

Spring:

La forza del destino 😉 yep, that one, in Loy’s vision; with Trebs and the Alvaro of our times

Faust – hm, I might go, see how Damrau is holding up, PLUS it’s got Abrahamyan in her ROH debut (!) as Siebel (let’s all lament the fate of very good mezzos). On the downside, Ettinger conducts.

Billy Budd conducted by Ivon Bolton – the all male cast opera, let’s check it out…

Andrea Chenier – NOT with the Alvaro of our times but with Alagna and Radvanovsky! How can we resist that offer?!

Tosca with Opolais/Grigolo/Terfel but the last show brings Draculette back to her rightful territory so yay for those who care.

Summer:

Boris Godunov still with Terfel but without Ain Anger; so soon? Maybe because they were short of money for a new production…

Carmen, because we’d already missed her, this time with Margaine, and Pisaroni as Escamillo, ha!

Figaro after a couple of seasons, because there are only 3 operas and 1/2 by Mozart; this is the season with Kimchilia Bartoli as Cherubino but also unusually with Gerhaher as Figaro plus Keenlyside as the Count. You know it might actually be worth revisiting and weirdly enough, for the men.

La fille du regiment returns once more, now with Devieilhe, and Camarena will show us his 3283576 high C in a row. Then again, Pido conducts.

In conclusion, some interesting turns but generally a rather meh year ahead for yours truly’s taste.

Glyndebourne 2019

La damnation de Faust – a Richard Jones production, so it could be much fun

Rusalka – nah

Il barbiere – see below

Die Zauberflote – I’ll have to see it at some point, don’t know that this is that point; however, Agathe, David Portillo is Tamino 😉

Cendrillon – usually a spectacular mezzo-mezzo borefest, now with DeNiese and the ever trouserable Kate Lindsey; I mean, they had to make up for the music…

Rinaldo with DeShong in the title role. A bit of a strange choice IMO, but to be honest I have not heard her live and in Handel to boot. I was proven wrong before.

Carmen: too good for that plot/music

legocarmen

click for lego Carmen

Carmen the opera is bloody boring. I love Strauss but I don’t agree with him. The music is just meh with generous helpings of sentimentalism. Maybe you need to be a musician to enjoy it from an intellectual point of view. Feel free to disagree, for me it ain’t happening. Maybe it’s the overexposure.

I’ve always felt that Carmen herself was an interesting character (especially for the 19th century) but Don Jose is the sort of annoying whiny antagonist that makes me bang my head against the keyboard. He probably strums an acoustic guitar in his spare time and writes to agony aunts of his girl troubles.

Chere tante de l’agonie,

I’m stuck here in this appalling mountain shack (no indoors plumbing) with a bunch of odorous, foul mouthed hoodlums and the coppers on my trail. All because I love her. Oh, chere tante de l’agonie, how I love her! I love her more than rain after a drought. My soul cries for her every time she is gone etc. Yet I have a nagging feeling something is terribly amiss. Of late she is grumpy all the time, pushes me away… How can I make her smile again? Help!

Dear Don Jose,

she’s not that into you. Get over it.

PS: catch up with that Michaela girl. She sounds like a good sort for you.

I think a film (along the lines of High Fidelity) would have been better than an opera.

Glyndebourne 2015

Let’s look at the roster for Glyndebourne 2015:

Poliuto | Donizetti

Carmen | Bizet – Stephanie d’Oustrac in the title role… interesting idea; ponder, ponder…

Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail | Mozart – I am so going! I don’t even care who’s in it 😀

The Rape of Lucretia | Britten

Saul | Handel – more Iestyn and some Purves + Bolton; good chance I’m going

L’heure espagnole/L’enfant et les sortileges | Ravel – pretty sure I’m going, I love L’heure and I think DeNiese will be ok, she can for sure pull off the sex starved babe 😉