Gay City News, May 28, 2010
Carmen, Metropolitan Opera, 28. April 2010
The Jonas Sensation

Kaufmann ignites Met “Tosca”(siehe Tosca Kritiken) and “Carmen”
“Carmen” (April 28) as a production has problems that could easily be resolved: First, cut the dreadful Vegas-style Christopher Wheeldon choreography that disfigures and trivializes the “Prelude” and “Interlude.” Second, stop the soldiers in the first scene from molesting Micaela (no way they would do this to someone asking for their comrade officer). And, do not rotate the stage at the opera’s shattering denouement to show Escamillo towering over a risible plastic bull.

Kate Aldrich, pretty and with a great figure, had the “confident Carmen” routine down to the point of seeming generic. She worked really hard, with a decent middleweight sound despite some frazzled high notes and pitch lapses. She was more natural than the chilly supermodel Garanca this past fall, but she struck no sparks.

Jonas Kaufmann’s José struck many sparks –– vocally, physically, interpretively –– and ignited the performance onto a different plane with a sensational “Flower Song,” ending with a great demonstration of messa di voce and diminuendo. His singing was detailed, polished, and remarkably beautiful throughout, with well-sifted echoes of Corelli, Gedda, and Vickers in the mix.

In addition, Kaufman’s a hell of a tragic actor, the best José in my experience since Domingo opposite Crespin when I was a kid. He alone made the performance truly memorable, though Maija Kovalevska’s Micaela did some lovely singing.

It is difficult to reconcile Mariusz Kwiecien’s near-disastrous Escamillo –– no top , no bottom, major static ––with the world-class “Figaro” Count he recently sang in Chicago. Swanning in tight pants is not enough in this tricky role.

Eve Gigliotti made a promising debut as Mercedes, her sensuous mezzo a good match for Elizabeth Caballero’s Frasquita and something of an admonishment to Aldrich’s neutral “all-American” sound. The feeble Morales wouldn’t have stood out in a conservatory production –– another example of looks driving the industry’s casting and publicity agenda to the exclusion of style and experience.

Altin Antinoglu led decently –– no more, no less.

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