Vancouver Sun, April 19, 2008
Lloyd Dykk
Carmen, London, cinema review
Carmen telecast grand, and perhaps more accessible
The Vancouver Sun's Lloyd Dykk took in a pre-recorded high-definition telecast of Bizet's Carmen from the Royal Opera in London
My friend Ed threatened to show up in a tuxedo. I said, "Ed, don't. It's a movie theatre. We're seeing Carmen in a movie theatre."

Thank God he showed up at 1 p.m. in his L.L. Beans but you never know what Ed will do. Carmen is his favorite opera. It's also the only opera he knows.

This was the 2006 production of Carmen from Covent Garden, a big deal. It got raves for being gutsy, sexy and realistic. Women were fanning themselves down from seeing the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann as Don Jose and the Italian baritone Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as Escamillo, and I think a few guys were too. And Anna Caterina Antonacci as Carmen isn't too bad in the looks department either.

This was the first opera telecast by Covent Garden but frankly my other experience, seeing the Met, was better, just for the theatre which was severely terraced so that you could see everything. Empire Granville 7 Cinemas aren't - they're more conventional, but it still wasn't bad. It wasn't a problem because the place was just more than half filled, and boy were they well-behaved.

I think anybody who made a noise would have been killed because nobody wanted any distraction from this Carmen, which was the best I've ever seen. The singing! That soft high B-flat in La fleur que tu m'avais jetée? Oh!

The conducting? Ed said he could have spent the whole three hours just watching conductor Antonio Pampanno. The direction by Francesca Zambella was as free as what you'd see in a very good movie. And the singing was incredible but as far as I'm concerned, everybody played a slight second fiddle to the minor part of Micaëla starring the amazing soprano Norah Amsellem. How could that aria have been better?

When it was over, Ed was rapt. But again he brought up Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Play the Beatles, a formative moment for him, apparently. And as it turns out, he doesn't even like opera and the only reason he likes Carmen is the instrumental music.

"It's fine but there's too much singing." At least that's what he said before.

His last words on Saturday: "Is there a DVD of this?"

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