[Met Performance] CID:255830
Carmen {761} Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 12/9/1978., Broadcast

(Broadcast
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 9, 1978 Matinee Broadcast


CARMEN {761}

Carmen..................Régine Crespin
Don José................Guy Chauvet
Micaela.................Leona Mitchell
Escamillo...............Michael Devlin
Frasquita...............Alma Jean Smith
Mercédès................Shirley Love
Remendado...............Andrea Velis
Dancaïre................Russell Christopher
Zuniga..................Philip Booth
Moralès.................Gene Boucher

Conductor...............Giuseppe Patanè

Rebroadcast on Sirius Metropolitan Opera Radio

Review of Richard Dyer in the Boston Globe

Regine Crespin-A Great Carmen

"Carmen" is one of the three most-performed operas in the repertory, and it is on every list of the half-dozen greatest. But I don't know anyone who has ever seen a perfect performance of it, or a completely satisfying Carmen; on the other hand, there has probably never been a performance of "Carmen" without redeeming value or a Carmen wholly without interest - Merimee and Bizet saw to that.

The key moments in my own experience of Carmen were the first performances of the role in New York three seasons ago by Regine Crespin, who was my first great Carmen in the theater. After a season's absence and a series of serious illnesses, the French soprano was back in the part again recently, and she was, if anything, even better than before, as those who heard the national broadcast last Saturday afternoon will have realized. There are Carmens who have vocalized the role more beautifully - Victoria de los Angeles on her recording, Teresa Berganza recently under Claudio Abbado. Crespin's voice is large, and its size affects its mobility in episodes like the "Seguidille" and the Gypsy Song. But the size of the voice also fills out the music, and the colors of the voice characterize it; I have never heard a comparable Card Song or Death Scene. Crespin is a Frenchwoman, which gives her advantages over every Carmen since Solange Michel when it comes to demonstrations of the way the words summon the music and the music dramatizes the words. She is also a beautiful, statuesque woman with a lively, volatile sense of humor that shapes the character in the early scenes; in the final scene, on the other hand, she stands almost motionless, and it is those, great, flashing eyes that tell us that Carmen has met her destiny and will face it without flinching. There is no event in the Met tour that we should be looking forward to more than Crespin's portrayal of the Old Prioress in Poulenc's "Dialogues of the Carmelites."

There were other good things about this performance - the alert, lively conducting of Giuseppe Patane and the confident and gleaming Micaela of Leona Mitchell. But Joseph Svoboda's sets and the stage direction of Bodo Igesz show the danger of highly stylized and individual productions of repertory operas - in a few years they look dated and foolish. Furthermore, in order to accommodate one Carmen this season who felt uncomfortable in the original spoken dialogue, all the performances reverted to the use of the old recitatives, not Bizet, which deprived Crespin, for one, of some the greatness of her characterization and, which deprived Bizet, for another, of some of the variety and momentum of his opera.


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