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Louise Winter in the title role of the English National Opera 2001 revival of Bizet's 'Carmen'. Photo © Bill Rafferty

The convincing staging and Terry Bates' busy choreography added plenty to keep eye and mind attentive. The soldiers mimicked by a lively children's chorus in Act I -- the children's chorus singing admirably forthright -- the wild fights of the cigarette girls, the dancing merrymakers at Lillas Pastia's and the eager crowds outside the bullring. Musically the performance was very strong, yet not without a few shortcomings. Outstanding vocally were Micaela and Escamillo, whose less demanding dramatic role allowed a focus on musical values. Louise Winter delivered a magnetic Carmen, her impressively rich, vibrant contralto injected the famous Habanera and Seguidilla with passion and fire, well supported by the splendidly acted and musically focused choruses. It was Carmen's wild rather than seductive nature that was emphasised in the Habanera, for which the chorus stood round in a circle, Carmen choosing a few individuals to dance with, then reject. And the darker side of her character was well portrayed in Act III.

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Copyright © 24 February 2001 Malcolm Miller, London, UK





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