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Review: CARMEN at Wroclaw Opera

Review: CARMEN at Wroclaw Opera

She's back and she's good!

For some people synonym of the opera, after 15 years the great Carmensita is back in Wroclaw, still bringing a huge dose of emotions and a great time in the theater.

4 acts composed by George Bizet had their premiere in Paris in 1875. He died 3 months later at age 36 and brought with his unexpected death a mystical touch to this controversial, at that time, opera. In the 19th century, many people received this piece as very scandalous, because murder, Gypsies, smugglers, and women of loose morals were not common in operas. Even artists, singers, and dancers had concerns and didn't want to take part in this show. It's hard to imagine now that someone refuses to participate in Carmen. This opus is ahead of its time and even though Bizet was never in Spain his Hispanic pieces are recognizable across the globe. He wanted to underline the cultural difference and he did it amazingly. His work undeniably plays one of the main roles in the world's opera history.

For sure Hispanic culture is well-known for costume designer Malgorzata Zak and choreographer Alfonso Palencia (well, his Spanish). Their work aligns perfectly with the director's vision of an iberistic atmosphere. Maria Sartova brings us to different aspects of its reality, from licentious workers through toreadors, and Gypsies to smugglers. We feel the fiesta as many paints swirl in front of our eyes in beautiful choreographies and waves of skirts. Every act is different with another color palette which I love. My favorite one is act two with Boheme fiesta full of movements, intensities, energies, excitement, and power. The third act enchanted me with the scenography by Damian Styrna, tense and enigmatic, he puts a mystifying puzzle to this game with a gloomy spider's web and murky shadows. Terrific effect.

There is a lot of smoking (it's about a cigar factory after all) and the wine is poured without moderation.

The characters are great! Carmen (Monika Ledzion-Porczynska) is full of passion, and crudeness. There is some inexplicable energy of insolence in being different and sticking to your principles, being true to yourself. She's great. Don Jose (Giorgi Sturua) is torn between what should and what arises in him with unlimited passion. Those emotions seem to have no end. At some point, I believe that her personal release is freedom and this freedom is what attracts men so much. They want to have her/it but once they do they look like they don't know how to handle it because sometimes bondage is easier than autonomy. On the opposite side, there is Micaela (Gabriela Legun) who is a representation of purity and chastity. Her voice is like calm summer rain.

The ensemble is great, Jerzy Butryn, Pawel Horodynski, Lukasz Rosiak, Hanna Sosnowska-Bill, Barbara Bagiska, Szymon Raczkowski, Aleksander Zuchowicz and many others play their roles with brilliant devotion but to be honest, I have the impression that the music is so ravishing that the action on the stage is relegated to the background. It's light and thrilling, the conductor (Michal Klauza) made this easy and pleasant to experience even for opera beginners. The cherry on the pie is a choir, and as Opera Wroclaw got us used to it they brought a fascinating atmosphere and vibe to the show. What you would not expect is the young choir that would steal your heart from the very first note they sing. They bring unpretentious energy that no one but children has. Marvelous.

I enjoy watching classics and this one is definitely worth seeing and listening to, but watch out, you might have an uncontrolled need to visit Sevilla afterward.

Photo: ENEN Studio

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