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Raymond J Walker
MusicWeb International, July 2012

Apart from its authentic Spanish settings and star performances this production owes much to the exacting standards set by Carlos Kleiber.

The focus in the opera is firmly on the principals, Carmen, Don Jose and the Toreador and the interaction between them. Amongst them, Domingo is the only Mediterranean who can give the necessary emotional fire that an audience looks for. His sincerity in the role and in acting is admirable throughout.

Zeffirelli’s staging is complex and a joy to behold: horses, a donkey, flirting señoritas, market vendors, a pastor and his tutelage, children mimics of an army all engage the mind and the eye. His groupings complemented the well-filled authentic sets. The television production team had one chance to get it right since the first night was televised for live transmission. They achieve remarkable results giving much variety especially in close-ups. The orchestra is well recorded but theatre limitations mean that the principals are not ideally balanced when singing up-stage. Fortunately this does not affect the clarity of the choral singing. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Robert J Farr
MusicWeb International, 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

Robert Benson, April 2012

This was a great night at the Vienna State Opera in every way with lengthy ovations throughout…It’s a pleasure it is to watch Carlos Kleiber on the podium! This historic video should be in every collection. Don’t miss this one, if you don’t already have it. © 2012 Read complete review

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