Bizet: Carmen

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Bizet
LABELS: BBC Opus Arte
ALBUM TITLE: Bizet
WORKS: Carmen
PERFORMER: Anne Sofie von Otter, Marcus Haddock, Laurent Naouri, Lisa Milne; Glyndebourne Festival Chorus, LPO/ Philippe Jordan; dir. David McVicar (Glyndebourne, 2002)
CATALOGUE NO: OA 0867 D
Recorded at Glyndebourne last August, David McVicar’s production of Bizet’s opera is a visually handsome affair, staged with intelligence, purpose and a fine attention to detail. The wild card in the pack was the Carmen, Anne Sofie von Otter, declared to be all wrong before the show opened but in the event winning round most of her detractors. If there’s still an element of the self-conscious about her performance, she offsets it by bringing to the role a high level of vocal expertise and stagecraft, to ultimately convincing effect. Marcus Haddock offers a sterling and credible Don José, with Laurent Naouri an aptly tall, dark and handsome bullfighter and Lisa Milne a determined Micaëla. The smaller roles are all neatly integrated into the broader picture. The London Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance is lithe and alert and the conductor, Philippe Jordan, proves a stylish Bizet interpreter.

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In fact it exemplifies Glyndebourne’s superior qualities as an opera house, and the extra features on the discs demonstrate the level of thought and sheer hard work that go into such elements as costumes, dancing, fight sequences and so on. David McVicar and the cast discuss the characters, while Jordan talks about the score; there’s a synopsis, and even room for a tour around the famous gardens. The booklet includes a short note on the piece and a prose work specially commissioned for the Glyndebourne programme from Jeanette Winterson based on the Carmen story.