, May 2007
First I listened to this production, but did not watch it. “Nice performance,” I thought, “but nothing special.” Then I sat down to watch it and just about cried my eyes out for two hours. There’s a lesson to be learned here. At the risk of stating the obvious, opera is not just about singing. The acting and the mise en scène play equally important roles, and that is why it is increasingly difficult for me to accept “great stars” who show up for a production (or a recording, for that matter), plant their feet, and sing, with little to no concern for (or the skill to reveal) the dramatic truths of what they are singing.
Albanian-born soprano Inva Mula is the Micaëla on Angela Gheorghiu’s recording of Carmen. I wasn’t overly impressed with her then, but again, I was missing the visual element. Vocally and dramatically, Mula is the strongest singer in this cast. Her lyrical voice, with spinto characteristics, makes her right for Mimì. (Think Freni, but with more sinew.) In the arias as well as in the little exchanges with other characters, she is completely inside this role. At the curtain call, she looks as if death has passed right through her, and that’s not just because of the makeup.
Much the same can be said for the rest of the cast. They are capable and likeable, but it isn’t until you see them that you appreciate how good they are. © 2007 Fanfare Read complete review