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 (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.


  1. I echo one of the reviewers, wondering why T. accepted the job if he really didn’t “feel” the opera.

    he wouldn't be an enfant terrible anymore if he felt the original concept ;-)

    ***According to the reviews, the therapy session is not successful.

    I like this; the world learns how dangerous the job of the therapist can be... lesson 1: do not get involved with the patient.

    1. I still haven't sat through the whole thing. But I think it has its merits.

      I did find a YT video--it's gone already but there are a bunch of excerpts up there. Like so many regie productions, the excerpts don't tell the story and end up making the production look even weirder than it actually is.

      That said, can you view the production on Arte in the UK? all the Aix performances seemed to be blocked in the U.S.

    2. Yes, I can see it. I wasn't going to since I don't really like Carmen but I'll see if I can possibly capture it one of these days.


  2. btw, let me know if you've managed to see this. I can hook you up with it if you need it.


    1. Thanks! I actually nabbed it during the 14 minutes it was on YouTube :)


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