Review: ‘Carmen’ at a cracking pace

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Melbourne Opera
Canberra Theatre.
Reviewed by Clinton White

IT was great to see many kids in the capacity audience for one of the most popular operas, “Carmen” by George Bizet.

It’s a good one because it’s neither light nor grand. It’s full of familiar songs, too; I could almost hear the audience singing along.
Set in Seville, “Carmen” is a story of love won and lost, jealousy and death, smugglers and soldiers, and, of course, bullfighting.

The conductor, Greg Hocking, took much of it at quite a cracking pace, but everyone kept up. The opening scene, though, seemed a little subdued until the urchins came in, much to the delight of the mums and dads in the audience. They were locals, as were the chorus members.

But things really went upbeat after Carmen’s (Angela Hogan) entry. She was energetic and just a bit raunchy with more than a touch of mystery. Carmen’s many moods seemed almost natural to Hogan, in movement and vocal treatment.

All those in lead roles played them beautifully, but Micaela (soprano, Lee Abrahmsen) deserves special mention. Her voice was superb, with passion and clarity, especially in her long aria in Act 3.

Costumes were great, especially in the final scene, but I was disappointed in the set – it didn’t evoke a sense of, well, Spain.

After several curtain calls, Greg Hocking entreated the community to get behind the ANU School of Music campaign. That drew the most rapturous applause of all.

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