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Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Carmen - opera in four acts (1873-4) [141:00]
Carmen, a gypsy girl - Rinat Shaham
Don José, a Corporal of the Dragoons - Dmytro Popov
Escamillo, a Toreador - Andrew Jones
Micaëla, a village maiden - Nicole Car
Frasquita, a companion of Carmen - Ariya Sawadivong
Mercédès, a companion of Carmen - Tania Ferres
Remendado, smuggler - Sam Roberts-Smith
Dancairo, smuggler - Luke Gabbedy
Zuniga, Captain of the Dragoons - Adrian Tamburini
Moralès, Officer of the Dragoons - Samuel Dundas
Opera Australia Chorus
Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra/Brian Castles-Onion
rec. live, Mrs Macquaries Point, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Harbour, 2 and 4 April 2013
Sound: 2.0 LPCM, dts-HD Master Audio 5.1
PIcture: 16:9/NTSC
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Korean
Region: 0 (worldwide)
OPERA AUSTRALIA OPOZ56043BD [141:00]

Sydney Opera House? No, this is a Carmen filmed outdoors in the location as shown above. It is distinctive in that it is produced on a huge circular stage surrounded on its periphery by a red ring - presumably to ensure the singers do not drop off the edge. It is a minimalist production: props few and huge: Act 1 has cranes lifting a tank and an armoured car onto the stage. In later acts there is a huge port container on top of which the artists strut or sing or cower (Micaëla). For the final act there is a huge red neon-lit outline of a bull. Costumes and lighting are striking.
 
Rinat Shaham is a most voluptuous Carmen, raunchy and smoky-voiced but curiously not as seductive, taunting or dismissive in her tone as some other DVD Carmens have been - notably Grace Bumbry and Elina Garanča. Dmytro Popov presents us with a rather weak-chinned Don José. There’s not much of the violence suggested by the story prior to the action of this episode in his life. This weakens the build-up of tension in Act IV. Nicole Car’s Micaëla is a sweet but insipid girl-next-door with little character but she is appealingly honey-voiced. Andrew Jones’ Escamillo struts proudly and with self-assurance. It’s not surprising that this Carmen falls heavily for his manliness.
 
If you want the best DVD of Carmen go for the venerable 1967 Karajan recording that has the outstanding partnership of Grace Bumbry and Jon Vickers with Mirella Freni as an outstanding Micaëla. Elina Garanča is another flashy Carmen opposite Roberto Alagna’s Don Jose in the more recent 2010 DG DVD conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. 
 
Ian Lace