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Bizet: Carmen / Ekaterina Semenchuk, Carlo Ventre, Irina Lungu, Carlos Alvarez. Henrik Nanasi, Arena di Verona Orchestra & Chorus (stage direction by Franco Zeffirelli) [Blu-ray]

Notes & Reviews:

Georges Bizet's "Carmen", one of the world's most beloved operas and a staple of the operatic since its premiere a mere three months before the composer's death in June, 1875 was staged at the world-famous Arena di Verona in June, 2014 in an opulent production directed by the flamboyant Franco Zeffirelli and filmed in High Definition. The cast is an international lineup of excellent singers: Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk ("This gorgeous mezzo-soprano is gifted with an amazing voice... captivating timbre and good pronunciation... - Operaclick), soprano Irina Lungu ([her] voice has the brightness you associate with most coloraturas, but also bloom and warmth, which are more unusual qualities... " - New York Times), tenor Carlo Ventre ("I regard Ventre as one of the finest spinto tenors singing today." - Opera Warhorses) and baritone Carlos Álvarez (... ample, virile voice... " - Opera News). Conductor Henrik Nánási leads the Arena di Verona Orchestra and Chorus.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 159 min.
Region: All
Picture Format: Blu-Ray, 16:9, Color
Sound Format(s): PCM Stereo,
Subtitles: English, German, French, Italian


Interesting, but not captivating, performance of Bizetís masterpieceÖ
This Blu-Ray DVD features Ekaterina Semenchuk as Carmen, Carlo Ventre as Don Jose, Carlos Alvarez as Escamillo, and the delightful Irina Lungu as Micaela. The performance itself occurs in the Arena Di Verona, and is conducted by Henrik Nanasi, stage direction by Franco Zeffirelli. This is a team that should be hitting on all cylinders, yet something is missing.

Having seen more than a few productions of Carmen over my lifetime, I must admit that for me to be truly satisfied with a production of this opera, the singer in the Carmen role must exude a smoldering captivating sexiness coupled with a sense of longing vulnerability Ė and that just doesnít happen here. I must similarly be totally and completely convinced that Don Jose simply canít help himself, throwing away his life with Micaela because he is totally enraptured and enthralled by Carmen, her sexiness and sensitive side seducing him totally and without any chance of resistance. And that didnít happen for me here either.

That being said, Irina Lunguís portrayal of Micaela is stunning, and you can feel her desire for Don Jose, her fervent wish that he would choose to abandon the dark path he is going down. It goes without saying that her vocal work is spectacular and heart wrenching, and that her Micaela is sensitive and adorable. It is clear that Don Jose is truly lost because he turns away from her to go back to the life that he is terribly unhappy with, and a woman who will not allow herself to be loved in the way that she telegraphs to others.

The liner notes give only the plot summary. However, the sound quality is excellent, and the orchestra plays *wonderfully*. The sets themselves (given the Arena framework in which they are placed) are appealing, although not particularly extravagant. So the bottom line, for me, is that I have truly mixed feelings about this production. I didnít hate it, but I didnít love it either. Iím afraid that this production is strictly average.

Submitted on 08/18/16 by KlingonOpera 
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