By Marius Constant, after Georges Bizet,
On a text of Mailhac and Halevy
Adapted by Jean-Claude Carriere & Peter Brooks
An opera in French
Conductor Alexander Platt
Director Andrew Eggert
At the Harris Theater
Tony Award winning La Tragedie de Carmen a lean but passionate opera
Passion rules Peter Brook’s scaled-down version of Bizet’s grand opera, Carmen, is an exciting, intense tale of the doomed gypsy. I can’t think of a finer work to introduce teens to the majesty of opera. With a most familiar score by Bizet, we hear the erotic love songs, stirring anthems and rhythm marches and sweet arias and duets.
Without the choruses, Brook’s Carmen depends on the strong vocals by Sandra Piques Eddy’s Carmen and the discovery of Noah Stewart, the mellow tenor who sings Don Jose. Together with Krenare Gashi’s Micaela and Michael Todd Simpson’s Escamillo, the cast reaches new heights of vocal acumen. French never sounded so emotional and so melancholy. Carmen’s “Gypsy Song” and Escamillo’s “Toreador Song” anchor the opera. The “Habanera” rhythm and the “Flower Song” were particularly moving. The psychological motivations became vividly riveting. This Carmen is a most enticing opera, worthy of a long run.
Conductor Alexander Platt’s 15 member orchestra deftly moved from Bizet’s anthems and marches to ominous timpani, cello and booming percussion. The music is hypnotic, sensual and erotic. This production is long on drama moving toward Carmen’s tragic ending. I was intoxicated by the arias and duets—this is opera—that plays like musical theater. It is a treat with excellent production values. Noah Stewart is a real find.
At the Harris Theatre, 205 E. Randolph Drive, Chicago, IL, Call 312-704-8414, tickets $30 -$120, May 5, 10, 13 & 15 at 7:30, running time is 90 minutes without an intermission.