A “Carmen” to Avoid

A-OP-Carmen (Vernona)A “CARMEN ” to Avoid

With all the video versions of Bizet’s “Carmen” available, there is no excuse for the Arena di Verona 2014 version on a BelAir DVD. It is the same Zeffirelli production that is still available on a TDK video, with all its excesses, constant crowd movement, groups of dancers forever going into their routines, and lots of horses.

The Don Jose (Carlo Ventre) and Carmen (Ekaterina Semenchuk) are not romantic looking, are not especially good actors, and have not particularly spectacular voices. Even the Escamillo (Carlos Alvarez) has little stage presence, but Irina Lungu is an attractive Micaela. The best voice in the cast is that of Seung Pil Choi as Zuniga. The children’s chorus is charmless.

And why couldn’t the children, as well as some of the soloists, be told that a final “e” in French is pronounced “eh” and not “ay” as in Italian? So “garde” is “gar-deh” and not “gar-day.” A small point, but annoying when more attention is paid to spectacle than the language of the text.

Other details are superfluous. This is a “Carmen” to avoid.