Review: Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” Tuesday, Feb. 24

Categories: Day Tripping, Diva-Colored Glasses, Do As The Locals Do, Featured
Contributing Diva: Angela Rocco DeCarlo

625f61a852f53e827be778df288b023dYou have one last chance to see Maestro Carl St. Clair and Pacific Symphony’s semi-staged live performance of Georges Bizet’s (1838-1875) masterpiece opera, “Carmen” as it takes the stage Tuesday, February 24, 8 p.m., at the Costa Mesa, CA, Segerstrom Concert Hall. Having seen “Carmen” several times in full productions, I knew this was a show which could be effective in a concert format. And it was.

The spectacularly beautiful voices carry the story of a hapless Spanish soldier, Don Jose, who falls under the enchantment of the gypsy cigarette factory girl, Carmen, who knows no loyalty or duty except to her romantic desires.

This production is rich in talent: Milena Kitic, a Newport Beach resident, and world-acclaimed mezzo-soprano, plays Carmen as a beautiful woman supremely confident in her allure. Andrew Richards, tenor, seen as the duke in the late Opera Pacific’s “Rigoletto,” is mesmerized instantly by Carmen. Konstantin Smorigina, bass-baritone, is bullfighter Escamillo, who has been adored by everyone, so of course, Carmen must have him. Elizabeth Caballero, soprano, is Micaela, Don Jose’s endlessly loyal hometown girl. The supporting cast of soldiers and smugglers are wittily engaging with beautiful voices. Andrew Gangestad, bass, another Opera Pacific singer, is Don Jose’s superior officer, Zuniga, and rival for Carmen. They fight ensuring Don Jose’s wrecked career and life. It is a simple story of obsessive love and bad choices.

Stage logistics limit the size of the cast and movements. So there are somewhat shortened dance sequences and Escamillo must do without actual crowds of adoring fans. Bullfighter Smoriginas has a gorgeous voice, but the stage direction seemed to not maximize his physical potential. Escamillo is something of a rock star and should entail that in his clothes, posture, strut and stance. However, Micaela, she of the lilting voice, was no shrinking village girl, she knew how to handle the randy soldiers’ invitations.

Kudos were earned by all the talent on stage…and to Bizet for creating such exciting memorable music nearly everyone has heard. Alas, he died three months after the opera’s debut in 1875, in Paris, never knowing it was to become one of the most performed operas in the world.


Segerstrom Concert Hall

315 Town Center Drive

Costa Mesa, CA



Angela Rocco DeCarlo, a former Opera Pacific docent, covers entertainment, travel and culture.



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