Wednesday, July 02, 2008


This production of Carmen at the Zurich Opera asks the question "What if Carmen were Joan Crawford? What if she slunk about the stage with her giant shoulders and her ankle strap high heels like a lioness in heat? Would we love her?" The answer is a resounding yes! I believed in Vesselina Kasarova`s Carmen as I have never before. This is one tough bitch. She dies slowly with a surprised but resigned look on her face. There is no regret. Don Jose regrets everything.

Jonas Kaufmann was lovely, sang and acted beautifully. His were the loudest cheers. But without Carmen it is nothing. Their portrayals created the perfect balance of weakness and strength.

In this picture she has just thrown down the enchanted flower.

The stage is a bare circle with very few props or features--minimalism--except in each scene something is placed over the prompter`s hole in the floor. In the first act it is a sleeping dog that at one point wags its tail. A lot of energy went into planning this joke. In the third scene Carmen herself brings out the large rock and places it over the hole. It is difficult to imagine what a huge percent of the staging this represents.

They were filming for television.

Conductor: Franz Welser-Möst
Director:  Matthias Hartmann

Carmen:  Vesselina Kasarova
Micaela:  Isabel Rey
Don Jose:  Jonas Kaufmann
Escamillo:  Michele Pertusi
Le Remendado:  Javier Camarena


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