Carmen-Royal Opera House-Roberto Alagna-Elina Garanca-Ildebrando D'Arcangelo-06.10.2009

"Carmen" reloaded
......I saw Carmen for the second time. Lucky me, right? The cast was the same but I changed the perspective (I had a seat somewhere else in the venue) and this helped me seeing some other things and figuring out what didn’t work first time. In the end the same “thing” still doesn’t work.
*This performance was better than the other one, at least for me. The orchestra got more involved, supported more the voices, it had more meanings. It pointed out the peaks, got to pianissimo when necessary. Now I can say it’s the same orchestra I heard playing so skillfully last night at Tristan and Isolde. That was a dream and the dream went on this evening
*The “thing” that wasn’t exactly right, as still isn’t, it’s the way Elina acts. It’s nothing wrong, but Carmen is Spanish. There is not enough Latin spirit. I really don’t know how to explain. You have to see a Spanish woman talking and dancing. Everything is more vibrant, there’s fire, it has to stir you up, especially because we’re talking about a woman in love. The passion exists, but it should be let out better. And not by kissing, hugging and raising the skirts. In my mind the idea is clear. Maybe I’m not very good with words. I don’t know if you can learn the Latin spirit. I’ll see in time if anything changes. Hopefully the Staatsoper in Vienna gives me a ticket. And there’s also the Met broadcast in January.
*La fleur que tu m’avais jetee” really moved me this time. It was a sincere and passionate statement. In the end of the aria he comes to her and they both seated, both facing the audience. He’s looking at her but she doesn’t want to turn her head towards him. She has that look that says “it’s over, there’s no point trying”. Seeing that she won’t turn her face to him, touches her lips with his fingers than kisses his fingers as if saying good bye. This gesture is slow, as it ends with the music. That was beautiful. Binoculars reveal details that you can’t normally see, like this one. And there’s one more. Even if I was close to the stage I haven’t noticed it. After he kills her and still holds her body, he gets from his pocket the petals of the red rose she gave him in the beginning and let them fall on her.
*What else…oh, yes. In the other post I wrote about her fall in the last act. There wasn’t a fall this time. It probably must have hurt a lot. They’re standing all the time and it’s her that pulls off the veil. Wig or not, it must stay where it is. And yes, it’s a wig. She’s blonde as you’ll see in the pictures.
*Ildebrando sung better. Better from the point of view of involvement (I have no comments regarding the technique). And the orchestra played in piano, to make everything easier for him.
*Again A+ for the chorus.
*Best moments for tonight, not necessarily in this order, it’s just how they come to my mind
- The duet in the end, from love to fury, all the range of feelings were sent towards the audience
- Roberto’s La fleur que tu m’avais jetee
- Elina’s aria when reading the cards. Those low notes “la mort, la mort, toujour la mort”… gave me goose bumps.
- Elina’s dances. There’s more to do here, but she looks really good.
- the introduction of the 4th act done by the orchestra
- Roberto’s French
- the moment when love turns into madness, in the 3rd act
- the quintet in the 2nd act, at the inn
- again, his blue eyes and her green eyes
- Roberto’s last line in the 3rd act – I have to leave now but we’ll see each other again.
- Roberto's tears at the very end. This evening I sensed some saddnes in his singing and acting. Don Jose did all he could to save this love but it was useless. And now there's no way back.... It's really sad.
......The regulars of the ROH are back in their Grand Tier. They’re smartly dressed, they serve dinner during the interval and this gives a totally different atmosphere. If you’re not into spending a lot of money on some sandwiches, grab a coffee and go outside on the terrace. From up there you can see the Covent Garden Market and somewhere in the horizon, London Eye. On the right side of the terrace there’s the tailoring department. Tonight there were the costumes from Tristan and Isolde there, very close to the window. Last time I was there, in July, the costumes from Tosca were prepared to be sent to dry cleaning. There’s always something to discover up there.
......After the performance I went backstage. After about 40 minutes all 3 of them (Elina, Roberto and Ildebrando) came and sat on the two chairs behind the glass. ROH’s backstage is a very good place to go if you want to talk to the artists. To those who want to do that, of course. In Munich, Vienna, Paris, there are large crowds waiting. But not here. Usually there are about 20-25 people that patiently wait their turn. I even recognized some faces from last time. There were about 15 people last evening. So I got to the stars of the evening pretty fast. Part in Romanian with Roberto, part in English with the other two I managed to be coherent for a 5 minute conversation. With congratulations, it sounded better than on Saturday, good luck at the Met, see you in Vienna for Carmen next year…. This kind of stuff.
......But it was nice. It is now another night to remember. Ta-ta-ta-tararara, ta-ta-ta-tarara… the sound of Carmen’s tambourine still comes to my mind as I stay at Starbucks, daydreaming, at 7am, waiting for the flight to be announced. Yes, I’m going back home. But I’ll be back. London is like a magnet.
An introduction, before going inside. This is Covent Garden Market, seen from the terrace of the Royal Opera house

Curtain call - Elina Garanca and Roberto Alagna

Roberto Alagna
Elina Garanca

The conductor -Bertrand de Billy

And now backstage

And the cherry on the cake of "Carmen". It was actually Roberto's idea. Thanks and hope somehow you get to see this photo.

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  1. thank you for your review, very detailed! It seems they didn´t have enough time for rehearsal, because from your describtion the second performance seemed to be much better than the premiere.
    Great pictures as always, the last one would be good enough for a opera magazin.

  2. Thanks Edda. I did my best :)