CARMEN (Canadian Opera Company). Runs to October 23. See listings, page 87, for details. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Watching this second-rate production of Bizet 's Carmen , you think, "Wow, this is what it must be like to see opera in, say, Saskatoon or St. John's." Run-of-the-mill sets, lacklustre singer/actors, uneven direction. Hello, bad regional theatre!
Director Mark Lamos has helmed productions before at the Metropolitan Opera, but he's cashing a cheque here.
In a story about a dangerous, passionate woman who lives her life on her own terms, there's a surprising lack of intensity and fear.
That's clear from the moment innocent young Micaëla - the title character's opposite number - makes her appearance. Surrounded by rowdy, horny officers, the country bumpkin should be frightened. As performed by Ana Ibarra , she might as well be flirting with schoolboys.
Other bad choices continue: confusing crowd scenes, with children receiving too little direction; a tenor who shouts his love instead of showing it dramatically; a toreador procession that's reduced to a single figure, no doubt to skimp on costumes.
Thank god for Larissa Kostiuk in the lead role. To Richard Bradshaw 's lively conducting of the COC orchestra, her Carmen is a hot-blooded, instinctive tragic heroine, with the requisite pipes and the passion.
Impressive, especially since she's not given much dramatic partnership onstage.