Carmen without Baltsa, but with Sylvie Brunet
This was a very good production. Jean Pierre Ponnelle's scenography and original production. But first someone from the management, told us that Agnes Baltsa had recently come from Vienna, she was having bronchitis, and that Sylvie Brunet had used much of the day to prepare herself for singing today, as well as on Friday. I don't like her myself, but she is a good Carmen. I found her a little too vulgar. Francisco Araiza was a totally convincing Don Jose, This was a more violent Jose, than I was used to. Violent from the start. First highlight was the duet Michaela/Don Jose, the soprano was superb. Araiza coughed during the duet, so I guessed he had a bit of cold. Margaret Chalker was the Michaela. Second highlight was her aria in the third act, another highlight was the duet Don Jose/Escamillo. The Escamillo was good in the Toreador-song, but I wanted a more substantial Escamillo, like Raimondi.
In the Second act, it was obvious for me, that she can't dance, her rhythmic was lacking. But the Smugglers quintet was real good. Good Remendado/Dancairo/Frasquita/Mercedes. The Frasquita (Elena Mosuc, soprano) was indeed excellent. The Scene Don Jose/Carmen, was so sexy, almost too much. Her dancing (again), and she sang "Tra-dla-dla" where it should be "Tra-la-la-la...", and that does make a difference, vulgarity versus elegance.
Third act, was a highlight in the entity, Ensemble singing, acting, all, perfect.
Fourth act, always a pleasure. The great ensemble, singing.acting. The duettino Escamillo/Carmen gave none impression, as I think it ought to do. In the ensemble, Don Jose with Michaela, almost unseen got into the crowd. Carmen waited for Escamillo, her friend notice Don Jose, watching them singing the duettino, warns her, Escamillo prays on stage to the Madonna, Escamillo goes into the corrida. Carmen waits for Don Jose, It is a great duet. Everything in the duet is true, at last Don Jose, after begging her one last time, , stabs her. When he sings "Vous pouvez m'arreter", Michaela looks out of the windows, and her shoulders move in weeping...
Great Opera in Zurich October 21, 1998