Robert J Farr
, June 2012
This production, from the Vienna State Opera is a typical Zeffirelli spectacular. The opening act sets the tone with the stage well populated by people and diversions such as vendors and children eating fruit. The second act, set at Lilas Pastia, gets a big round of applause as does that to act four, and that is before the parade of horses that follow the quadrilla led through by the banderillos and picadors, all lavishly attired. Everything is on a grand scale…the handling of the fight scene between José and Escamillo, particularly its ending, well handled…
It is interesting to see how [Carlos Kleiber] draws his magic from the players who respond to his minimal beat on one hand…to violent animation on other occasions.
The audience response is well over the top with prolonged applause after José’s flower song…
As well as the possibility of being a visual spectacular, the success of any performance of Carmen depends, more than many stage works, on the singing and acting of the four principals. In the eponymous role low mezzo Obraztsova sings effortlessly with round creamy tone in her act one arias…A young Plácido Domingo sings the supposedly besotted José with strong lyric ardour. His acting is convincing and he holds nothing back whilst being tasteful at the same time. In his singing and acting he is matched by the Scottish soprano Isobel Buchanan as Micaela…she sings and acts outstandingly with elegant phrasing, purity of tone and exemplary expression in both her arias…The minor parts are all sung and acted adequately particularly the Mercedes and Frasquita of Cheryl Kanfoush and Axelle Gall. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review