“Are you the devil, Carmen?” “I told you, yes”
Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen has been performed in its entirety and in part (particularly the Habañera) on stage in nearly every country of the world and in over 70 films. The role of Carmen has been portrayed by opera greats, including Risë Stevens and Maria Callis, by Rita Hayworth and Beyoncé and even in a Tom and Jerry cartoon!
The opera’s performance history could be intimidating, but not to the dell’Arte Opera Ensemble who presented the production as part of its 2012 Standard Repertoire Project.
The mission of the Ensemble is to provide singers with training and performance experience as a bridge to a professional career as well as with a viable, positive response in future auditions to the daunting question, “Have you done the role before?” In addition, for the past 10 years they have provided New York audiences with innovative, high quality and exciting opera.
Each singer is cast to debut in his or her role with careful consideration given to the level of expertise of each singer…from those clearly ready to move forward to a professional level to those still on the pathway.
Elisabeth Shoup totally embraces the role of Carmen. She is tough, she is sexy, she is conniving, she is loving and she is deadly. Her total embodiment of the character is truly remarkable.
The “supporting cast,” so defined not because of smaller or less important and demanding roles, but simply as default to the overwhelming requirements of the role of Carmen, is excellent and all are given their moments to shine. The ensemble work is effective and well rehearsed with each individual blending with the others while still maintaining the strength of each individual character. The choreography is exciting and integrated smoothly into the story.
Adam Juran is a talented and well trained singer and meets the challenge of the preconceived visual concept of Don Jose. Still, he seems a more gentle character and at times we don’t quite believe his descent from devoted soldier to the dark side of obsession.
In the challenging role of Micaëla, Lauren Onsrud creates a very believable character, engaging the audience in her emotions. The strength of her voice serves her well.
Artfully directed by Knud Adams there is never a lapse of momentum or focus. Sung in French, the well written supertitles enhance audience understanding without distraction.
Led by Christopher Fecteau, who is also Artistic Director, The Festival Chamber Orchestra is excellent and maintains a consistent balance between singer and orchestra.
The dell’Arte Opera Ensemble has concluded their 2012 Standard Repertoire Project, but whenever you have the opportunity to see and hear them, don’t miss it. They are remarkable not only in concept but in level of performance.