Thursday, July 6, 2017

Frustrating Carmen (Audio Only – That's the Frustration)

I learned today from Michael Fabiano’s Facebook post that the new production of Carmen by Dmitri Tcherniakov at Aix-en-Provence is being broadcast on Arte.tv (but not in the U.S.) and on France Musique radio (via website or phone app* ).

I am listening to it now as I type. I am pleased with the musical performance but perplexed by the production. There is a whole dialog** scene before the overture starts. Tcherniakov (as is his wont) has layered a new concept over the opera, and the visual element (apparently) is not what one usually expects from Carmen.  The point is there is a lot going on that is not music. I want to see what's happening! Hence my Carmen Frustration.

As I listen, I tracked down a few reviews in English, so I now have an idea what I am missing. The idea of enacting Carmen as therapy*** is interesting (though I doubt it would ever catch on over here in the U.S.) and I look forward to seeing the realization. The production also stars a favorite mezzo: Stéphanie d'Oustrac.

I do have a quibble—one that is pointed out by more than one reviewer: apparently Tcherniakov created this new concept because couldn’t really “get into” the traditional bullfighter/gypsy/soldier story. I echo one of the reviewers, wondering why T. accepted the job if he really didn’t “feel” the opera.

All that said, I hope for video access soon, if not online, then via my friendly bootlegger. Meanwhile, here are links to the reviews:

Bachtrack Carmen as therapy: Tcherniakov challenges clichés but is stumped in Aix
Opera Today Carmen at the Aix Festival
New York Times ‘Carmen,’ Boldly Rewritten as Therapy for a Modern Man

My followers in Europe can probably access the Arte broadcast now or later. We all should be able to replay the France Musique radio broadcast for a while at least. 

*I need to do a new Tech Tuesday post about the France Musique app.
** Actually, almost all of the dialog is unfamiliar (I don’t speak French or understand it very well; but I am fairly familiar with the spoken bits of Carmen).
***According to the reviews, the therapy session is not successful.

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