Concert Review: Bizet, 'Carmen'

The 'Pastia' scene was perfectly choreographed, complete with dancing, castagnettes and singing.

Bizet, 'Carmen' Israeli Opera (photo credit: Courtesy)
Bizet, 'Carmen' Israeli Opera
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Bizet’s opera Carmen, performed at the Israeli Opera and based on Franco Zefirelli’s production at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, was a grand spectacle, intended to impress the audience by quantity – soldiers, officers, citizens, children, gypsies, milling purposelessly around the stage – yet not necessarily at the expense of quality, despite being partly overdone.
The Pastia scene was perfectly choreographed, complete with dancing, castagnettes and singing.
In the title role, mezzo-soprano Elena Maximova was a rare case of a Carmen who was not only seductive, but was also an accomplished actor and castagnette player who persuasively seduced not only Don Jose, but also the audience. Only her menace conveyed in her Si je ‘t’aime, prend garde a toi (“If I Love You, Take Care of Yourself”) was not so frightening as presumably intended.
Majmidon Mavlyamov’s soft lyrical tenor represented an intense persuasive lover as Don Jose. His profoundly moving “Flower” aria was one of the performance’s highlights. And his despaired final outcry Ma Carmen adoree (“My adored Carmen”) – after having killed her – provided the exciting end of the tragedy.
Hila Baggio’s lovely soprano charmingly represented a gentle, innocent Micaela – except for some too assertive and strong tones that did not quite suit her delicate character. Dario Solari’s sonorous baritone was a proud, ego-obsessed toreador.
Conducted energetically and drivingly by Karen Kamenek, the Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion effectively and sensitively contributed tension, drama and emotion, including some elegantly polished instrumental solos.