Friday, July 4, 2014

Carmen at the Santa Fe Opera

Well, you didn't miss much July 2. Joyce El-Khoury was poignantly evocative as Micaela, but no-one appreciated her, or, at least, expressed any. (Years ago a critic chided the audience for their enthusiasm. S/he claimed the applause and myriad standing ovations were evidence of lack of discernment. Since then they've been reticent.) I made a fool of myself by enthusiastically screaming Brava!!!! numerous times and holding up my lighter at the end of her first-act duet -- Parle-moi de ma mère -- with Don Jose, Roberto Di Biasio. Ms. El-Khoury has been coached by Lorin Maazel and, according to online sources, he designed past programmes at his Castleton Festivals to showcase her talents. 

The production is obviously the work of a ham-hand. The cigarette girls come out wearing labcoats that would, at first sight, evoke ruminations on Mao except the blue is too bright and the fabric too heavy. The lack of sensuality achieves blatantcy when the women embrace their inner "shameless flirts" and throwing open their coats, stroll about flaunting their charms in their undergarments. The motley assortment looks as if the costumer gave them carte blanche while directing them to a thrift store. Although one might beneficently view the contrasts as humorous, the affect adds to the production's general feel of clunkiness.  

Ms. Daniela Mack as Carmen is definitively lacklustre. Perhaps she was tired that evening, but her lack of emotive power prompted me to wonder who encouraged her toward the role. Her attempts at pole-dancing (around the bars of her cell) and spread-legged squats (in Pastias' Inn) ala a strippers revue lacked the talent that work requires and added further evidence to the impression that the choreographer worked in a vacuum. I suppose you could see the consistency of the short-comings as an aesthetic, but if it hadn't been for El-Khoury and Di Biasio, we wouldn't have made it through the first act. As it was we left before the end of the second.

Better luck next time.

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