Passionate & Emotionally Diverse

Georges Bizet’s Carmen gave its audience a night full of intense drama and emotion. The play opened with the backdrop almost “tearing”; a red light spilling onto the stage. A shirtless, chiseled male appeared with a sultry young woman, and the two danced provocatively on stage. Their movements suggested a strong passionate relationship foreshadowing the future relationship of Carmen and Don Jose.

The opera’s actual plot began with the appearance of the timid Micaela resisting the unrestrained soldiers. The soldiers, having been confined with their own gender for so long, wanted Micaela to stay for some “fun”. The audience automatically sympathized with the young Micaela, and we all hoped for her safe escape. Here was the origin of the strong emotions exuded by the characters and the scenes.

Micaela’s exit transitions into a grand display of the “changing of the guard”. Here a dramatic, powerful tone resonates between the children and the soldiers. The children’s high-pitched voices blended with the soldier’s deep voices very well. The grand scene was one of the best of the night. The choreography was very well done and executed without any obvious mistakes.

Carmen appears in the middle of the “cigarette girls scene”. She makes an ostentatious appearance among the girls. Anita Rachvelishvili, the actress who played Carmen, appeared very flirtatious, and moved seductively around stopping at different men gathered around the cigarette girls. It was obvious she was not popular with the other cigarette girls. Her voice was good, but not excellent. She seemed to be overpowered by Micaela’s vocals in her earlier appearance. The romantic, sweet voices of the cigarette girls were contrasted with Carmen’s sultry voice and movements.

Carmen’s flower that she seemed to point at different men seemed to symbolize her latest love interest. Its scent was said to overpower even the most faithful man, and her “stabbing of Don Jose, seemed ominous and foreshadowing. The episode ended with the innocent Micaela entering and embracing Don Jose. Micaela’s innocence is juxtaposed with Carmen’s forwardness throughout the opera.

The elements of folk dance were particularly clear in the “Seguidilla”. The twirling of skirts and stomping of their boots created a spectacle of carefreeness that seemed to permeate the gypsy camp. The men flipped and spun the girls and the children imitated the toreador in a bullfight. The passionate impersonation of the bullfight mirrored Carmen and Don Jose’s relationship. As the bull, Carmen too is slain.

The destruction of Don Jose by Carmen takes place both emotionally and physically. He seems intensely weakened by her power, until he kills that which destroyed him, Carmen. Beethoven’s Fate Motif can be heard in the background as all of this takes place. As Don Jose takes off his military jacket to join the gypsy troupe, it symbolized his abandonment of duty and fidelity to Micaela. It is here that Don Jose is permanently changed. It is the point of no return.

The Opera’s music was excellent. The orchestra was brilliant, and their control of their sound level was exceptional. The music directly correlated with the scenes’ tones. The drawn out music during the times of mourning and the faster, lighter music mirrored both the scenes of despondency and frivolity.

The grand scenes in conjunction with the more intimate emotional episodes created a robust array of emotions for the opera’s audience.

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