<< -- 2 -- Maria Nockin SHIMMERING HARMONIES
This opera's première also marked a major change in the way opera choruses were handled. Up to this time, choristers usually moved en masse without breaking up into small groups and no attempt was made to make them seem to be local people involved in the story. The score of Carmen was also far more complex than the works to which the performers were accustomed, and many of them complained. However, the leading singers of the première cast, Célestine Galli-Marié and Paul Lhérie, backed the composer's work and insisted that performances not be toned down.
Malcolm MacKenzie as Escamillo. Photo © 2006 Cory Weaver
San Diego Opera's Carmen was a co-production with Opéra Montréal and the Canadian Opera Company of Toronto. Stage director Mark Lamos succeeded in making recognizably real people of most of his characters and he drew the audience into the progress of the drama so that one could not avoid becoming emotionally involved. Scenic designer Michael Yeargan, who received a 2005 'Tony' award for his work on the show The Light in the Piazza, made a separate set for each of the opera's four acts and added a huge number of props such as knives, guns, candles and flowers.
Barbara Divis as Micaëla and César Hernández as Don José. Photo © 2006 Cory Weaver
Francois St-Aubin's costuming was updated to the thirties for the most part. Micaëla's dress was very drab and Escamillo's Act II cowboy outfit was extremely bright, but all of the ensembles were interesting and worked well in this production. Robert Wierzel's lighting evoked the bright sunshine and deep shadows of a tropical country.
Copyright © 30 April 2006
Maria Nockin, Arizona USA