Irish Times, November 28, 2008
Bizet: Carmen
Soloists: Anna Caterina Antonacci, Jonas Kaufmann, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, Norah Amsellem. Covent Garden Orchestra & Chorus. Conductor: Antonio Pappano
Decca ****

This staging of Carmen in 2007 at Covent Garden was greeted with critical and public acclaim. The debut of the exciting young German tenor Jonas Kaufmann as Don Jose was hyped up, and he doesn't disappoint. He has the looks and the spinto voice required for this role, and is a truly tragic figure at the climax of the opera. As Carmen, reclusive Italian Mezzo Anna Catherina Antonacci is both energetic and sultry, although the role tests her technique at times. Norah Ansellem (a previous winner of the Veronica Dunne Singing Competition) sings Micaela well if a little blandly, while Ildebrando D'Arcangelo (as Escamillo) lacks swagger. The staging is energetic and flamboyant, although the emphasis on muted colours hardly suggests Seville in the hot afternoon. Antonio Pappano gives the marvelous score a sensuous sheen.

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