Review by Callum Wallace.
As a person who would typically always choose a musical over an opera, I was incredibly taken aback by the beauty of this wonderful production of Carmen by the Welsh National Opera directed wonderfully by Jo Davies.
This four act opera is the first of three by the WNO and what an opener. Carmen is the most produced opera and, I would say, contains the song most people think of when they think of opera as a genre. Virginie Verrez took this on with an incredible confidence that lasted throughout every act. This, paired with such a powerful voice and you have a performance that will be remembered for a long time. Her ability to make you understand every word without having to read the subtitles came through such emotive facial expressions making it effortless for the audience to follow her character’s story with ease. When she was on stage, there was not one eye from the house not drawn to her.
Verrez wasn’t the only actress who stood out though; Dimitri Pittas was also so powerful as Don José, a character caught in a dramatic love triangle. Pittas portrayed the character’s turmoil with ease, once again, easily allowing the audience to follow his story and understand what led to his acts in the finale of the opera (if you know, you know)
Phillip Rhodes, who plays Escamillo, the third part of the triangle, which the story centers around, completes the trio with ease. An effortless performance that exudes confidence and sex appeal. Playing his part to perfection.
Another stand out moment occured in act two, and also in other places throughout, where Carmine De Amicis and Josie Sinnadurai demonstrated such passionate and proffesional dancing. And on an off-balance floor created by Leslie Travers as part of immersing the story in the favellas of South America (a wonderful setting to the story and brilliant concept executed masterfully), it was even more impressive.
The children featured in the show are also well worthy of mentioning. Every one of them displayed great discipline and confidence in their acting and operatic singing and I was incredibly impressed with all of them.
I wish I could name everyone in the cast by name, but as this was such a large Ensemble, and every actor was so strong we would be here for hours. Every actor was part of such a perfectly polished machine that moved to perfection. And when they all sang at once it was as if a wall of sound was created, used to great effect in the production.
I would also like to mention how amazed I was to find that these actors have no need for mics, and can easily fill a large auditorium, such as the Hippodrome, with such powerful sound above a full orchestra beautifully conducted by Tomás Hanus.
Overall, I was incredibly impressed with this production. A brilliant introduction for me to the world of opera, making my even more excited for the next productions by the Welsh National Opera.
Listen to The Sound of Musicals with Callum Wallace Sundays 5-6pm on Radio Tamworth