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Just as the opera moved from the naturalism of the spoken word to the artifice of song, Ted Brandsen's choreography moves freely between a naturalistic body language and the conventionalism of classical ballet.

The four central roles are all strongly realised. Benazir Hussain looks the part of the gypsy and she dances and acts with a sensual energy which makes her a perfect Carmen [watch and listen -- Carmen's first solo, the Habanera -- chapter 7, 12:02-13:35], while Errol Pickford matches her all the way with the extrovert physicality Escamillo's role demands [watch and listen -- Escamillo's entrance -- chapter 11, 24:04-24:28].

Benazir Hussain as Carmen and Errol Pickford as Escamillo. DVD screenshot © ABC 2002
Benazir Hussain as Carmen and Errol Pickford as Escamillo. DVD screenshot © ABC 2002

Jose, the smitten and then vengeful lover, has a more complex part than Escamillo the toreador. Daryl Brandwood's portrayal grows in force as the character loses control of himself, making the final scenes the most credible, overwrought though they have to be.

Daryl Brandwood (Jose) approaches the climax of WAB's 'Carmen'. DVD screenshot © ABC 2002
Daryl Brandwood (Jose) approaches the climax of WAB's 'Carmen'. DVD screenshot © ABC 2002

Melissa Aurisch, as Micaela, is the only other dancer named in the scant information provided with the disc. As the cast-off lover's cast-off lover, she has only a supporting role but she realises it more than adequately. So, too, do the dancers in the minor roles named only in the video credits, especially Nicola Wade, Andrew Hull and David Cranson.

The West Autralian Symphony Orchestra is in the pit, under the direction of Nicolette Fraillon. They work regularly with the WAB and they do the music proud: colourful, precise and energetic enough that one would enjoy the DVD even without the picture.

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Copyright © 29 September 2007 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia

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