By Kumiko Lau
photos courtesy of Bettina Stöß
Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” may not be the most popular opera, but it certainly tops the favorites list of diva lovers. The opera not only features a flirtatious and tempestuous love story, but its well-known melodies certainly keep you awake.
Berlin’s Deutsche Oper production is the foundation of this second largest opera house in the country. But opera, a relatively complex art form, is equal parts theatre and singing. Starring Clémentine Margaine and Elbenita Kajtazi, this “Carmen” disappointingly lacks the passion that makes this three-hour production so well loved.
Carmen is not an easy woman to figure out. Margaine’s mezzo vocals are impressive and her acting convincingly expresses both the temptress and manipulator. But, Margaine lacks Carmen’s fire. The scene of her seduction of Don José fails to drive the emotions of the house.
The role of the heartless Carmen who leads the solider Don José to suicide requires more than pure vocalism: blazing eyes, sexual allure, and most importantly, a sense of danger. Margaine was nowhere close to bringing any of these to that Thursday evening.
Despite the lack of stage presence, the singing was entertaining and well executed, and the orchestra, conducted by Jacques Lacombe, performed beautifully.
Deutsche Oper’s “Carmen” was definitely not the best I’ve ever seen, but, for 55 euros, well worth it.