Alexander Productions ‘Carmen, The Musical’ was every bit as sizzling as this worldly opera ought to be, but all too rarely is. Under the visionary guidance of Nigel Jamieson, the internationally acclaimed event and theatrical director, this impossibly young, committed and gifted cast (and crew) deservedly scored ovations for their unforgettable delivery; and deliver they did, with panache, good humour, agility and sublime vocal performances.
More than 120 singers and dancers from across Australasia must’ve been a handful, but the real feat was staging this fully-fledged production on a 9-day turnaround, which, I’m sure, should, by rights, qualify for some Guinness gong.
With a remarkably minimalist stage (a baker’s dozen or so large tables were moved around surprisingly effectively), evocative costumes (one could almost feel the sting of needles inadvertently stuck in fingertips in the flurry to finish ‘em) and cleverly choreographed crowd scenes, the singers were allowed to give their all in their almost wholly successful quest to exploit every delicious moment ‘of burning love, simmering passion and seething hatred’. Sydney summers can be sweltering, but this was but a mildly balmy January evening; yet the sultriness was utterly inescapable.
Jamieson hit the mark, and then some, in his determination to stage an entirely distinctive version which, for mine, surpassed any number of ‘professional’ productions, thanks to its sense of humour and levity, but also its sheer excellence. Hear, hear to his instict to flout and fly in the face of mindless operatic orthodoxy.
Movement Director (of Sydney Theatre Company), Gavin Robins, played a major role in ensuring the story was persuasively told and all changes effected smoothly. Conductor, Christopher Shepard, wielded a magically musical baton. Designer, Andy McDonell, and Lighting Designer, Chris Twyman, also deserve a spot for devastatingly deft contributions, especially given next to no time or budget.
Producer Nicole Alexander brought Mid-Summer Opera to Sydney in 2005. Let’s hope she’s in it for the long haul, if ’007’s effort is any indication of the likely results: a full house, an ecstatic audience, a fulfilled cast & crew and a cool, new, brimming talent pool!
Alexander Productions presents
Music by Georges Bizet. Adapted and Arranged by Bobbie Field
Book and Lyrics by David Badger by arrangement with Hal Leonard Australia Pty Ltd on behalf of Josef Weinberger LTD. London
Venue: The Sydney Theatre @ Walsh Bay
Dates/Times: January 18-19, 2007 at 2pm and 7.30pm
Bookings: Ticketek www.ticketek.com.au or Sydney Theatre Company at Walsh Bay on (02) 9250 1999