Bizet Carmen opera to libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. Directed 2013 by Gale Edwards at the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. Stars Rinat Shaham (Carmen), Dmytro Popov (Don José), Andrew Jones (Escamillo), Nicole Car (Micaëla), Ariya Sawadivong (Frasquita), Tania Ferris (Mercédès), Sam Roberts-Smith (Remendado), Luke Gabbedy (Dancaïre), Adrian Tamburin (Zuniga), and Samuel Dundas (Moralès). Brian Castles-Onion conducts the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra (Associate Concertmaster Huy-Nguyen Bui) and Chorus (Chorus Master Michael Black). Sets by Brian Thomson; costumes by Julie Lynch; lighting by John Rayment; sound designed by Tony David Cray; site designed by Eamon D'Arcy; choreography by Kelley Abbey; recording produced by Sam Russell; directed for TV by Cameron Kirkpatrick. Released 2013, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A-
Gordon Smith showed this Carmen to the L'OperaDou Jury in November 2013. It's set on a stage suspended above the water of Sydney Harbour with the famous Sydney opera house in the background. The jury thought it a bold and interesting show. Some jury members thought there are more layers to be found in the characters' psychology than can be portrayed in an open-air performance, but they found the sound surprisingly good. Jury members especially liked Carmen, Don José, Micaëla, the quintet at the beginning of Act II, the chorus, and the choreography. The overall verdict was "A-."
Mike Ashman, writing in the March 2014 Gramophone at pages 84-85, called this Gale Edwards show "quite a triumph in the physical circumstances." How about that for faint praise? Ashman admires what Opera Australia has been able to accomplish, but he doesn't feel this production is completely competitive with any of the 4 Carmen Blu-rays we already have. This would be the first time any magazine critic to my knowledge has compared as many as 4 other HDVDs to anying. So it would appear the critics are starting to take note of HD video. Ashman's assessment would also suggest a grade of B- at best, which is lower than what the Jury arrived at.