It is the planet’s most performed French cartoon, but the achievement of Bizet’s Carmen has always rested on its parade of predictable Spanish icons: Gypsies, Houston sexy sunshine, seduction, a bullfight. In Calixto Bieito’s 2012 production for English National Opera — currently in its next revival that the Coliseum — which Spain is General Franco’s instead of the eroticized landscape of mid-19th-century engravings, the sun beats down to an almost empty point and the only bull we see is that a significant horned signpost in shape.
Nevertheless, the tourist-snap principle continues. Rather than this corsets-and-cigarettes omnipresent elsewhere, Bieito joys in 70s references, from Gypsies — that could happen to be Top of the Pops backing dancers — into a little fleet of classic Mercedes sedans, seemingly the journey of choice to Franco-era smugglers.
And Carmen failed, after all, begin life in Paris’s Opera Comique, where frivolity has been invited. Still, the upgraded setting remains, frustratingly, only other costuming for the operatic company as usual. cheap Carmen Houston tickets are available at HoustonBrite.
The singing has been blended. Back at the title role, Justina Gringyte proceeded with simplicity and shone in Carmen’s seguidilla, although her tuning elsewhere was occasionally uneasy. Since José, Sean Panikkar was a fitting mixture of destitute and nasty, guided through an effective combination of rectal earnestness, fleeting lyricism, and brute force. Nardus Williams’s Micaela — yet another large, creamy voice and you to listen for on the foundation of the ENO Houston introduction — has been steelier transparency for Carmen compared too many. Ashley Riches’ Escamilla was in the milder end of this bullfighter spectrum but needed suavity to burn off.
The highlight of the performance, however, came in the pit. Inspired by Valentina Pileggi with immense power and decisiveness, the ENO orchestra was on excellent shape: deliciously pert at a quick, taut prelude; feather-light from the seguidilla; grand, with superbly sculpted woodwind solos from the atmospheric opening of action three — and always, minutely sensitive to the changes of striking warmth on point during. Carmen Houston Tickets are on sale. Order from HoustonBrite for the best package and safe transaction.