Sunday, June 13, 2010
it ain't over till the slim vamp dies
I have to say, it's rather disturbing how much opera depends on domestic violence for its story lines. But that didn't impede my enjoyment of the Repertory Opera Company's staging of Carmen yesterday afternoon, not one bit.
As I learned in the Introduction to Opera class I took as an undergrad (where I acquired my love of opera -- before that, I thought it was just goofy screeching), opera is a combination of carefully-schooled voices, fine acting, and stage spectacle. The ROC's production of Carmen lacked the stage spectacle of the Met (after all, it's community opera, directed by our own Lizbeth Lucca, not Plácido Domingo or Peter Gelb), but it made up for it with the other two components.
If you don't know Carmen, it's a pretty basic story, based on a novella by Merimée: Boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy kills girl. At least this is one Pomona homicide that won't make the LAT crime map. The music is some of the most memorable in the repertoire of western opera; apparently, when Carmen debuted, people were humming the songs in the streets of Paris. I defy you to do otherwise; I'd bet dollars to donuts that the 150 or so folks at yesterday's performance are all whistling "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle," "Prés des rampartes des Seville," or good old "Tor-e-a-dor en ga-a-a-arde!"
I wouldn't want to be be mistaken for an opera critic, but I'll single out three things that really struck me: the voice of Nicolas Shelton, who played Zuniga; the acting skill of Danielle Marcelle Bond, who inhabited her role better than most grand divas I've seen at the LA Opera; and the children's chorus, who were utterly adorable (make sure you say that weeth a Franche accent). Every aspect of the production ranged from very good to fantastic, though; I'm sure other things struck other folks, and feel free to post about them in the comments.
There are two more performances left: Saturdays the 19th and 26th, at 2pm at the First Christian Church. You can buy tickets at the door, and if you show up an hour early, there is a lecture about the opera. A show at the Dorothy Chandler pavilion will run you at least a benjamin, but this is well under two jacksons -- what a deal.
Now, people, go out there and get some Culcha!
The first photo is of Maria Callas, who was probably the most famous Carmen ever (and deservedly so). The second one is of Enrico Caruso as Don José -- who, I must say, rather resembles the ROC's James Salazar, or, rather, the other way round.