I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Even before the curtains open you know you have. But this is where it comes from? Well all right then; maybe the opera isn’t as foreign as you once thought. The opening scene starts with familiar music that comforts the wary first-time opera-goer. The ‘Habanera’ has been injected in pop-culture even if you didn’t know its origins. It is interesting and the orchestra is top notch at delivering the music to the Metropolitan Opera, even to the ‘nosebleeds’ where I was so fortunate to be seated. Another song that I am sure you are aware of is the ‘Toreador,’ you’ll know if you hear it.

Back to the opening scene. The stage is just all red. Redness and then a crack up the center of the curtain slowly breaks open more and more. Then you see a couple of people, one man and one woman, moving and it becomes clear. The redness, the two bodies, their formal ballet movements. It’s passion, and plenty of it. And that theme doesn’t die down; throughout the whole show there is a heavy degree of passion emitted from the stage. Even though it may be past your bedtime, there’s no nodding off. There is laughing, singing, yelling, crying, dying, and it all comes delivered in a fresh French package. Yes, the opera is in French so it would be a plus if you can speak Carmen and Don Jose’s tongue, but not to worry if you don’t. On the back of the headrest of the seat in front of you is a small screen that gives off subtitles in English, Spanish, or German. Leave it to the ‘Met’ to provide such a service, one that’s much appreciated by the way.

Courtesy of the Met

There’s more to appreciate than just the subtitles on the headrests though, how about the opera itself? Wait though, I’m getting ahead of myself, I just want to talk about the stage a bit first. If you want to see a set transform and view it from different angles then Carmen is the show to see. It is ingenious the way the stage moves. The scene changes location right before you.

Though the second scene is where the real magic begins. It is also where we first see the revolving set, with its multiple layers slowly spinning around the stage. There are many intricacies of the stage that are even overlooked. Like the massively jagged edges of the main set that looks like a stadium. It makes it look real as an opera can get. There is also a trap door, which is located smack in the center of the stage that many women pour out of, because apparently a revolving set isn’t good enough for the Met. There are no cutting corners here; even with the actors they did not cut corners.

Speaking of which, the acting was phenomenal for the opera, which was written a while ago so many modifications arose. There was passion (there’s that word again) in the movements of the actors especially. Especially in the ending scene where… (alright I won’t ruin it for you) but, there is loads upon loads of passion in the end scene. Carmen herself is full of raw passion that is not exhibited by the other actresses, mainly because Carmen is the only one that is really supposed to be, which exemplifies her as the main character. She is also distinguished by the loud colors that she drapes herself with. Don Jose seems like just a mess, which fits absolutely perfect with the character he plays. It seems like Carmen is in control the majority of the time, which also fits very well into the storyline of the play.

Courtesy of: Comstock Images, Alamy

The story is great and it shows how the value of some things does not diminish with time. Do the math, Carmen has been playing for years and the seats are still packed. That’s got to mean something.

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