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David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2020

BUBENÍČEK, J.: Carmen [Ballet] (Teatro dell'Opera di Roma Ballet, 2019) (NTSC) 2.110664
BUBENÍČEK, J.: Carmen [Ballet] (Teatro dell'Opera di Roma Ballet, 2019) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0114V

A choreographed ballet based on the Carmen story using music from Bizet’s opera, with additional material from Albeniz, Bonolis, Catelnuovo-Tedesco and De Falla.

The scenario opens with the story used in the opera, with Carmen flirting with the soldiers who have just arrived to take up residency near to the cigar factory where she works. Causing trouble with the other girls, she is sent to prison with the new recruit, Don Jose, as her guard. Easily seducing him, he allows her to escape, and it is his turn to be jailed. Release sees him rejoining with her and her friends, a group of gipsy thieves. From therein the ballet story and Bizet’s opera go their separate ways with Carmen, now already married, only coming together again with the spurned Don Jose outside of the bull ring, where her rejection of his love leads to her murder. In this version the famous Toreador is killed by his horse. It is the latest creation from Jiri Bubenicek, a Polish-born dancer who shared international fame with his equally gifted twin brother, before, in 2015, turning away from the stage to concentrate on choreography, this being his latest work commissioned by Rome Opera. The result is colourful and imaginative, elaborate dance movements a test for any company, with the two principal dancers on stage most of the ballet. Carmen has the very attractive and sylph-like figure of Rebecca Bianchi, the principal ballerina of the Ballet Company of the Rome Opera House, here required to perform gracefully and seductively together with some very demanding contortions. Visually the close-ups of the outstanding Amar Ramasar show just how much the demands of the role of Don Jose make on the performer. Sadly nowhere in the booklet are we given the individual names of a hard-working supporting cast who are excellent, and particular so with the dancer who takes Garcia, her husband. The production packs so much action on stage to capture our undivided attention, it is easy to overlook the very good Opera House orchestra, and the conductor, Louis Lohraseb. Very good filming, also available on Standard DVD, Naxos 2.110664. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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