Struggle for Power

The décor of The Metropolitan Opera sets a grand atmosphere for the opera it is presenting. From the size to the quality of acoustics in the theater, it is able to give the audience an authentic experience. Recently, they presented “Carmen,” a classic opera created by Georges Bizet in 1800s. When the opera was adapted, the directors emphasized a struggle between powers through the smooth, yet dramatic dance moves, and high-pitched yet powerful arias. Combined with the intricate details of the theater, the performance had the audience clinging onto every emotion and word, even though it was performed in French.

Met Opera House; credits to

Before each act, two ballerinas, Maria Kowroski and Eric Otto, are dancing in front of a red backdrop. Performed before Acts I and III, the intimate dance moves are setting the mood for the respective acts. The red background also serves as a tool to draw in the audience’s attention.

When Act I began, it became apparent who was the lead even if the viewer did not know the storyline. The voices of Carmen and Don Jose, sung by Anita Rachvelishvili and Yonghoon Lee, respectively, dominated others. When other soldiers were pursuing Carmen, their voices were noticeably softer and weaker than Carmen’s. The director seemed to have used the strength and weaknesses of the casts’ voices to underscore the plot and the overall dramatic effect. That is to say, those who could not win Carmen’s heart had weaker voices than Don Jose, whose voice rung in the theater and overpowered Carmen’s.

Carmen; credits to

Throughout the opera, the director constantly used this technique to depict the stronger character. Another instance was when Micaela, played by Kate Royal, wanted to take Don Jose away from the world of gypsies. A soprano, Micaela sang her aria with a sweet, high-pitched voice; this is paralleled to her thoughtful and loyal personality. On the other hand, Carmen, a weaker mezzo-soprano by Act III, still sounds fierce and more prominent.

Although the technique was useful in emphasizing the overall dramatic effect of the opera, the ending did not have the same positive effect. Though Carmen’s death was dramatic, it was also abrupt. It was almost as if someone had ended a song in the middle of an important verse. Yet again, the grandeur of the Metropolitan Opera may have set the standards too high, making this opera’s ending seem a lot weaker than it really is.

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