Carmen (Kasarova)


Bizet Carmen opera to libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. Directed 2008 by Matthias Hartmann at the Opernhaus Zürich. Stars Jonas Kaufmann (Don José), Vesselina Kasarova (Carmen), Isabel Rey (Micaëla), Michele Pertusi (Escamillo), Sen Guo (Frasquita), Judith Schmid (Mercédès) Gabriel Bermúdez (Dancaïre), Javier Camarena (Remendado), Morgan Moody (Zuniga), and Krešimir Stražanac (Moralèz). Franz Welser-Most conducts the Philharmonia Zurich. Set design by Matthias Hartmann; costume design by Su Bühler; light design by Martin Gebhardt; choreography by Teresa Rotemberg. Directed for TV by Felix Breisach. Released 2014, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

Why did Decca decide to now to release this 6-year old recording of Carmen? According to Hugo Shirley writing in the December 2014 Gramophone (page 100), this production is flaccid, the conducting is mechanical, and none of the singers is exciting other than Kaufmann (whom Shirley praises). Well, now we understand. Kaufmann was respected in 2008, but now he's red hot. With Kaufmann on the cover, some customers will buy this today, even if the title is weak otherwise.