Categories: Day Tripping, Do As The Locals Do, Featured, Music Diva
Contributing Diva: Angela Rocco DeCarlo
A note of thanks to Pacific Symphony and Music Director Carl St. Clair for keeping opera alive in Orange County since Opera Pacific’s abrupt demise, November, 2008, leaving we docents, who doted on bringing opera education to schools throughout the area, adrift.
Georges Bizet’s smoldering “Carmen” is the fourth in the “Symphonic Voices” series, which began with a luminous concert production of Puccini’s “La Boheme” in 2012. “Tosca” and “La Traviata” followed, bringing superb stagecraft to bereft opera audiences. “Boheme” demonstrated an audience could be transported into an opera with bare minimum set, as long as there were singers who could bring the characters to life with beautiful voices and impassioned acting. Of course, it is the music which ignites the flame which warms the soul and stirs audience empathies.
“Carmen” is among the most performed operas since its Paris debut in 1875, at the Opera Comique, where it has repeated nearly 3,000 times, or an average of once every two weeks for the past 140 years.
It is a simple story, set in Seville, Spain, in the early 19th century, when Spain strictly controlled the production of tobacco products. The local cigarette factory is guarded by military where Don Jose, a duty-bound soldier, who reveres his mother, has a girl back home, yet, is fatally attracted to an ultimately derailed by the gypsy cigarette factory girl, Carmen.
Carmen lives for her own pleasure, has contempt for duty and takes pride in her utter disregard for loyalty, living only for serial sensual attachments. In short she is the perfect girl to destroy lusting Don Jose; poor thing that he is.
Bizet’s soaring melodies, such as the lilting Act I Habanera, are so well-known, even those who have never set foot in an opera house, can hum along…Carmen’s tunes are instantly recognized.
Pacific Symphony’s semi-staged three performances feature stellar interpreters of the roles; Orange County resident and international-acclaimed mezzo, Melina Kitic, and tenor Andrew Richards are perfectly matched.
Ms. Kitic is affiliated with several OC universities, Richards, is remembered for his athletic performance as the duke in the late Opera Pacific’s “Rigoletto.” His crystalline sound is reminiscent of 1950s film star, Mario Lanza.
Elizabeth Caballero sings Miceala, the hometown girlfriend and Kostas Smoriginas plays the always-electrifying role of toreador, Escamillo.
“Carmen” will be performed at least 450 times in the 2014-2015 season in more than eighty cities from Beijing to Biel, Switzerland.
Thank goodness, Orange County is among the fortunate venues. Pacific Symphony’s “Symphonic Voices” brings exciting “Carmen” back in its apparent eternal life.
Segerstrom Center for Arts
600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
For tickets: PacificSympony.org
Feb. 19, 21, 24, 8 p.m. Tickets from $45.00
Angela Rocco DeCarlo covers culture, travel, & entertainment.
She is a former OC Opera Pacific docent.