BWW Reviews: Opera Colorado's Subdued, Stifled, and Subpar Version of the Operatic Classic, CARMEN

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One of my fondest memories of growing up in Wiesbaden, Germany was dressing up and attending Sunday matinees with my Grandma Dorothy at the Opera House. If I could pick one word to describe my fond memories of the opera it would be grandeur. Unfortunately my experience with Opera Colorado's production of Bizet's CARMEN (Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy) was anything but. Before I go into this critic, I have to say that if they had called this Carmen: The Concert, my expectations would have been altered and thus this review. The design team of Director Kathleen Belcher, Chorus Master John Baril, Conductor Robert Wood, Lighting Design by SeifAllah Christobal, and Costume Design by Ann Piano gave us a more bare-bones and stripped down version of this iconic opera and just me wanted more...much more. With the lack of any set or backdrop, a forgotten chorus stuck in the back of the stage in white shirts and black slacks, a minimal ensemble and the orchestra sitting in the middle of the stage like an awkward elephant in the room. So here is my wish list from the show - I wish that they had dressed the chorus in peasant costumes and had a painted backdrop of a rolling Italian countryside to transport us (even a little) into the story. Had they done these small changes, I could have gone with the orchestra being onstage. Even for my issues with the show, I did see several moments of excellence including the fun gypsies and the passionate exchanges between Carmen and Don Jose.

Sandra Piques Eddy in the lead role of Carmen was quite excellent, giving her role a fun and flirty air and a wonderful voice to complete the package. I also thoroughly enjoyed the passionate performance and vocals of Janai Brugger as Michaela. Adam Klein was quite good as Don Jose, and I have to compliment him on coming in at the very last minute to play this role competently well. The gypsies played by Jared Guest and Brett Sprague were fun, charismatic, brought up the energy of the show.

PHOTO CREDIT: © 2014 Matthew Staver

PICTURED ABOVE: Sandra Piques Eddy as Carmen

A cornerstone of Denver's cultural community, Opera Colorado presents an annual season at its downtown Denver home, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The Company presents new works alongside standard repertoire, and reaches more than 35,500 students and community members throughout the Rocky Mountain region through a variety of education and outreach programming. Opera Colorado Young Artists, a five-month residency for singers at the beginning stages of their careers, provides training for the next generation of American opera performers. Founded in 1983, the Company celebrated its 30th anniversary in the 2013 season. For more information on Opera Colorado's upcoming season visit them online

Sandra Piques Eddy as Carmen

Adam Klein as Don Jose and Sandra Piques Eddy as Carmen

The cast of CARMEN

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From This Author Michael Mulhern

Michael Mulhern has lived in Denver and been active in it's theater scene for over 10 years. He is originally from Wiesbaden, Germany and graduated (read more...)