One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Georges BIZET (1838 - 1875)
Carmen - opera in 4 acts (1875)
Carmen - Elina Garanča (mezzo); Don José - Roberto Alagna (tenor); Micaëla - Barbara Frittoli (soprano); Escamillo - Teddy Tahu Rhodes (bass-baritone); Frasquita - Elizabeth Caballero (soprano); Mercédès - Sandra Piques Eddy (mezzo); Moralès - Trevor Scheunemann (baritone); Zuniga - Keith Miller (bass); Le Dancaïre - Earle Patriarco (baritone); Le Remendado - Keith Jameson (tenor)
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Chorus and Ballet/Yannick Nézet-Séguin
rec. live, Metropolitan Opera, New York, 16 January 2010
Picture format: 1080i60 HD 16:9. All regions.
NTSC / Colour / 16:9 (Filmed in High Definition); Sound formats: PCM Stereo DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles, French (original language), English, German, Spanish. Menu language English
Extras: Backstage at the Met with Elina Garanča, Roberto Alagna and others. Hosted by Renée Fleming
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 073 4799 [167:00 + 9:00]

Experience Classicsonline

Bizet died at the early age of thirty-six. This was shortly after the premiere of Carmen at the Opéra Comique at which the work was coolly received. The audience finding the story of the eponymous anti-hero somewhat immoral. That Puritanism, considering the goings-on in Paris society during the recently demised Second Empire, smells of hypocrisy. The Opéra Comique presented works with spoken dialogue and it was in this form that the opera was premiered. Whilst in recent years some productions have gone back to this original form the international success and popularity of Carmen dates from its 1875 Vienna production and involves the sung recitatives that the composer’s friend, Ernest Guiraud, added after the Bizet’s death in place of the spoken dialogue. Spoken French dialogue can present difficulties to a multi-national cast and, as here, the practice in recorded performance has often been to utilise the Guiraud sung recitatives with a few interjections of spoken dialogue.
My colleague reviewing the DVD of this performance, and shortly after having seen it live, found much to praise (see review). This production by Richard Eyre, premiered on New Year’s Eve 2010, and transmitted to cinemas worldwide just over two weeks later, and with a significant cast change, replaced the 1996 Zeffirelli spectacular at the Met. I recently reviewed his version from Vienna conducted by Carlos Kleiber (see review) and noted that he so cluttered the stage with bodies and action that certain of the stage instructions could not be carried out. The updating to Spain in the 1930s means that not all the stage instructions are carried out here. Why Don José ties Carmen’s hands with rope, when she is already handcuffed escapes me. She then pushes over Zuniga rather than José to escape, an illogical producer idiosyncrasy. Such are the quirks of modern producers as is the absence of any spectators during the final confrontation between Carmen and Don José. There are compensations such as the final tableau of the view of Escamillo, standing with sword, over a dead bull and the whole in vivid red light.
Generally the large representational set by Rob Howell, together with the rotating Met stage, allows the story to unfold in a comprehensible manner. The use of blue lighting for the darker locations has something of a down side with the likes of Zuniga’s shaven head reflecting the colour! The presence of dancers in the entr’actes is largely meaningless. However, ultimately a performance of Carmen depends, above all and more importantly than in many operas, on the singers and particularly on the title role. In this respect, the Met landed lucky with the withdrawal of the soprano Angela Gheorghiu and her replacement by the mezzo Elina Garanča; Bizet’s music is far better sung by a mezzo. Not only does Ms Garanča sing with wonderful enunciation, but also with meaning and a wide variety of tonal colour. In her singing and acting she exudes Carmen’s sexuality whilst not over-egging it with hip swinging and flaunting.
Carmen’s lover, the enchanted Don José slowly disintegrates over the four acts as a consequence of his infatuation with Carmen. Francophone Roberto Alagna does less well vocally in this role. The sweet-voiced and mellifluous lyric tenor who first hit the headlines at Covent Garden nearly twenty years ago, is now a rather coarse semi-spinto. Too many spinto roles mean his tone has become grainy and his effort at a softly sung B-flat at the end of the Flower Song is not easy on the ear (CH.30). Micaëla, the girl his mother wants José to marry, is sung by a mature-looking Barbara Frittoli. In act one she manages the sung and acted interactions with the troop of soldiers well. However, in the long duet with José as he asks her to tell him of his mother, her large voice has difficulty in managing an elegant legato (CH.10). This is even more evident in her act three aria (CH.42) when her voice also shows signs of harshness at the top.
Even without considering that Teddy Tahu Rhodes had only a few hours notice that he was to make his Met. debut that afternoon as Escamillo, his is a good achievement. Tall and physically imposing his voice is strong and he manages the demanding tessitura well. He just needs a little more variety of colour and nuance whilst his performance here should lead to other opera house intendants calling. Keith Miller's sung and acted portrayal of lieutenant Zuniga portends his capacity for greater challenges. I have heard and seen better portrayals of the gypsy girls Frasquita and Mercédès, particularly in a leading house. The smugglers added colour in their acting and singing.
Along with Elina Garanča, the big plus of the performance is found in Yannick Nézet-Séguin. His idiomatic conducting has verve, vitality and sensitivity. Jimmy Levine is not missed in this performance.
The interval interviews and extras are bland rather than penetrating. The HD picture is excellent despite the blue lighting effects that were, perhaps, less evident in the theatre. All in all, and despite a flawed Micaëla, I still prefer the Royal Opera House performance with Jonas Kaufmann easily surpassing Alagna here and Anna Caterina Antonacci exuding sexuality even beyond Garanča’s achievement. Pappano is every bit as idiomatic as Nézet-Séguin and with perhaps a bit more bite in the dramatic dénouement (Decca DVD 074 3312).
Robert J Farr

















































































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.