Ellen Kent’s production of Carmen explodes onto the stage in a riot of music, colour, and movement.
The lavishly decorated set, which cost over £50,000 to build, provides a magnificent backdrop to the unfolding tale of love, lust, betrayal, revenge and ultimately murder.
The naïve protagonist – Don Jose (Vitalii Liskovetski) – a simple uncomplicated corporal of Dragoons – has an equally simple country sweetheart Micaela (beautifully characterised by Alyona Kistenyova). He fully intends to marry her until the exotic, alluring Carmen (Liza Kadelnik) bursts into his life in a flurry of movement and madness. Carmen represents everything that Micaela doesn’t; lust, passion and excitement in the forbidden underworld of the smuggling gypsies. Don Jose is swept up by Carmen into this world at the expense of his livelihood, his family and ultimately his sanity. He becomes obsessed by the fickle Carmen and, when he loses her love – as is inevitable – it leads to dire consequences for both them and everyone connected with them.
This production utilises the set to its fullest advantage, and provides Kadelnik with the perfect place to showcase her unquestionable talent. She is a star who commands the stage every time she enters it and her vocal and acting skills really stand out. Iurie Gisca as the Toreador, who replaces Don Jose in Carmen’s affections, is also an excellent actor & singer. There are some cleverly crafted comic moments which leaven the tragedy and the entire ensemble are to be congratulated on their performances, providing background activity and movement to complement the principals. Their singing, whilst never overpowering, adds to the atmosphere. The Chorus Master Mykola Madai should be proud! The smaller group songs are also a highlight of the show as the voices blend beautifully and powerfully to develop the storyline. Children from a local youth drama company, Stagecoach are used to great effect
The Director Ellen Kent skilfully and subtly uses the lighting and costume colours to reflect the darkening mood of the plot, before one glorious last moment depicting the excitement of the bullfight and of life itself, before the tragic denouncement.
The orchestra, most ably conducted by Vasyl Vasylenko is the backbone of this production, infusing all the much loved and well known arias and music with passion & sensitivity
Ellen Kent makes no apology for the extravagance and spectacle of the productions she stages. She understands that opera is larger than life and that audiences deserve to be treated to a visual and aural experience that will stay with them long after the curtain falls.
The next opportunity to catch an Ellen Kent production in Manchester will be in March 2016 when Die Fledermaus & Carmen will be staged; I urge you to buy your tickets soon for what will surely be sold out performances.
Sheila Blair for www.BoltonLive.org