Carmen (Rice)


Georges Bizet Carmen opera to libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. This was a 2010 revival, directed at the Royal Opera House by Duncan Macfarland, of the 2006 Francesca Zambello production. Stars Christine Rice (Carmen), Bryan Hymel (Don José), Aris Argiris (Escamilio), Maija Kovalevska (Micaëla), Nicolas Courjal (Zuniga), Dawid Kimberg (Moralès), Elena Xanthoudakis (Frasquita), Paula Murrihy (Mercédès), Adrian Clarke (Le Dancaïre), Harry Nicoll (Le Remendado), Caroline Lena Olsson (Lillas Pastia), and Anthony de Baeck (Guide). Constantinos Carydis conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Co-Concert Master Sergey Levitin), the Royal Opera Chorus (Chorus Director Renato Balsadonna), and the Children of Trinity Boys Choir and Tiffin Girls' Choir (Choirmasters David Swinson and Simon Ferris). Designs by Tanya McCallin; lighting by Paule Constable; choreography by Arthur Pita; revival fight direction by Natalie Dakin of the 2006 fight scenes by Mike Loades; photography directed by Sean Macleod Phillips; directed for TV by Julian Napier; produced by Phil Streater. Released in 2016, 2D disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Grade: NA

This 2D Carmen was shot in 2010. It was released in 2011 in 3D as a motion picture on film at 24 frames per second. It's the same production  that the Royal Opera House shot (in 29.97 digital video) in 2006 (with Anna Caterina Antonacci and Jonas Kaufmann) and released in 2D on the Decca label in 2008. To reduce the risk of confusion, I'll call the Antonacci/Kaufmann version the 2008 show. I'll call the 3D version the 2011 show. I'll call today's subject title the 2016 2D show or just the 2016 show.

The 2016 2D show uses the same sets, props, many of the chorus members, and three of the minor credited singers as those in the 2008 show.

The 2008 show, which I graded "A+," is one of the best opera videos ever made. I was not very enthusiastic about the 2011 show in 3D. Now I'm completely baffled why Opus Arte and the ROH would issue in 2016 the 2011 show again in 2D only. I stated earlier that all 4 main singers in the 2008 show were better than the singers to come later. Also, the director in 2011 distorted the stage action to take advantage of 3D. Will the distorted images look even worse in 2D in 2016? My head is spinning!

Well, Mark Pullinger reviewed this in the May 2016 Gramophone at page 86. His head was spinning too and he states " This . . . was originally issued as a 3D Blu-ray in 2011. Thus, weird camera angles abound, as if the cameras were on stage, swirling around . . . trying to whip up excitement. He goes on to recommend the 2008 show.