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Bizet: Carmen
     

Bizet: Carmen

by Teresa Berganza
 
There's a Carmen for every taste, it seems. Some prefer Leontyne Price's sensuality (RCA); others treasure Victoria de los Angeles's charm or Maria Callas's cunning. Teresa Berganza's Carmen has a personality as tough as nails and a

Overview

There's a Carmen for every taste, it seems. Some prefer Leontyne Price's sensuality (RCA); others treasure Victoria de los Angeles's charm or Maria Callas's cunning. Teresa Berganza's Carmen has a personality as tough as nails and a voice as soft as velvet -- her sex appeal is intoxicating. No wonder Don José can't resist her. Plácido Domingo plays the earnest soldier whose obsessive and obstinate infatuation with Carmen triggers the tragedy that ensues. Bizet's opera is not a perennial favorite just because of the singing, however. Carmen is loved equally for its musical depiction of the sights and sounds of Spain. The orchestra evokes the roar of the bullfight, the dimly-lit atmosphere of the tavern, and the seductive click of the castanets. In Claudio Abbado's version, the Spanish sun shines hotly, and every scene is vividly painted. If you find Carmen as irresistible as Don José finds Carmen herself, you'll probably want to enjoy some of the other interpretations, too, for each gives a different take on this timeless tale. But as an introduction to the opera -- or even as an introduction to the art form itself -- this gutsy and gorgeous recording is ideal.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
This 1977 recording of "Carmen" was based on a production from the Edinburgh Festival and includes most of the cast from that production with the exception of Ileana Cotrubas as Micaëla and Sherrill Milnes as Escamillo. Claudio Abbado conducts the London Symphony Orchestra, which plays with crisp precision and vitality. The evaluation of any performance of "Carmen" is complicated by the variety of editions available, the primary ones being the traditional version that uses recitatives set to music by Ernst Guiraud after the composer's death and the 1964 Fritz Oeser edition that uses the original spoken recitatives, but that reintroduces music Bizet discarded before the premiere. Most conductors using the spoken dialogue omit some or all of the discarded music, but Abbado includes it, and the result feels choppy and uneven, particularly in the first act. That effect is exacerbated by Abbado's performance. His tempos are frequently eccentrically slow or fast, without any apparent rationale, and he doesn't convey a convincing dramatic through-line or the sense of inevitable musical momentum that drives the opera. There are many effective moments, some lovely and some thrilling, but they don't add up to a convincing whole. That being said, the performances of the principals are often exceptional. Teresa Berganza's sultry, believably natural Carmen is beautifully nuanced, dramatically riveting, and musically ravishing. Plácido Domingo is a troubled, powerful Don José (pronounced here the Spanish rather than the French way) and his singing is lyrically intense. Cotrubas gives Micaëla exceptional warmth, even sensuality, and makes her a more interesting character than is usual. As Escamillo, Milnes is the least effective of the principals, sounding somewhat boomy and stiff. The sound alternates between the cavernous and the distant sides of an ideal ambience, and there is sometimes intentional but distracting crowd chatter under the spoken dialogue. In spite of the album's drawbacks, Berganza's vivid performance makes this a recording that should interest fans of the opera.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/08/2005
Label:
Deutsche Grammophon
UPC:
0028947753421
catalogNumber:
000402902
Rank:
87882

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Carmen, opera

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