Carmen | West Australian OperaPhoto - Frances Andrijich

One of the world’s most performed operas, George Bizet’s Carmen, is the current offering of the West Australian Opera.

Performed by principal performers Perth girl Caitlin Hulcup, American tenor Garrett Sorenson, James Clayton and Zoe Kikiros along with the West Australian Opera Chorus, it offers a night of harmonious melody.

At first glimpse the set of this French opera appears to be one of a bland and empty ruin, yet once the show begins and the performers roll the massive set pieces into place, you are instantly impressed.

Reminiscent of the Hollywood production of the movie Nine, the set incorporates large flats and moving staircases that constantly evolve, providing a striking background that compliments but doesn’t distract from the talented performers.

Watching Caitlin Hulcup perform the role of Carmen you are not surprised that she is building a name for herself in the UK and Europe. Commanding instant attention she is mesmerising as the sexually alluring Gypsy who has all the men eating out of the palm of her hand.

You cannot fault the singers or the orchestra who do a magnificent job. It was with some difficulty that I fought the temptation to close my eyes and let the music absorb me, but fear of losing track of the story kept my eyes focused on the English subtitles on screens beside the stage.

The French language manages to sound beautiful whatever the topic. When the ladies from the factory come outside to flirt with the soldiers it is comical when you realise their song, which sounds like one of love and romance, is actually about the smoke swirling from the ends of their cigarettes.

The plot is a relatively simple one, yet it takes some time to tell the tale of Carmen, with the performance starting at 7.30pm and finishing almost three hours later.

Carmen is a tale of love, passion, jealousy and death. Carmen’s alluring yet villainous character is revealed early in the show when she fights with a fellow worker and slashes her face with a knife. Arrested and threatened with prison, Carmen uses her sensuality and promises of taking a future lover, to convince Corporal Don Jose to help her escape.

As soon as the Corporal agrees to assist her, you have a feeling that he has sealed his fate and both have started on a journey of impending doom. This is reiterated later in the opera when Carmen reads her tarot cards and laments that once again they reveal the impending death or herself and her lover.

When the dashing bullfighter Escamillo later makes his affections known to Carmen, Don Jose is enraged with jealousy and challenges him to a knife fight to the death. After Carmen’s companions break up the fight, she decides to leave Don Jose who is no match for the handsome Escamillo who promises a future of wealth and comfort. 

Not able to give up his obsession with Carmen, Don Jose pursues her, begging her to return to him. Yet despite knowing she has sealed her fate she rejects Don Jose once more and in a fit of jealousy the opera ends with him murdering his love.


West Australian Opera presents
Carmen
by Georges Bizet

Venue: His Majesty's Theatre | 825 Hay Street, Perth
Dates/Times: 7:30pm, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24 April 2010
Tickets: $152.50 - $37.50
Bookings: www.bocsticketing.com.au

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