Arizona Opera's production of "Carmen" sexy and real

Not your typical opera

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Arizona Opera | The Daily Wildcat

Josie Perez in Arizona Opera’s rendition of “Carmen.” "Carmen" is a classic opera with appeal for all audiences.

Arizona Opera’s production of Carmen last evening was a superb conglomeration of sexy, violence and art. Georges Bizet’s most notable opera is the tale of a love triangle set in 1820s Spain between a foxy gypsy woman, a soldier and a bullfighter. Carmen's cast and crew masterfully presented the show to a packed and enthusiastic audience.

This production of Carmen, directed by Tara Faircloth, featured a number of interesting staging elements including a set that, from the audience’s perspective, looked like a long street in Seville, Spain. A large projection backdrop set the mood through symbolic references and vivid sceneries, while costuming was timeless and true to the characters.

The music was breathtaking with each note of the orchestra perfectly coordinated with the action on the stage. Each orchestral overture induced goosebumps in every audience member, and the playing helped set the stage for Carmen's dramatic and captivating story.

Daniela Mack, who portrayed the role of Carmen, was magnificently and sublimely sultry, twisting the emotions of the men — and the audience — she enchanted with each shimmering note. It was clear that Mack was deeply connected to her character throughout Carmen, and the authenticity she brought to the performance was both magical and palpable.

Adam Diegel’s performance as Don José, the soldier who falls in love with Carmen, was captivating and deeply conflicted between the allure of his lover and the responsibility of his station. Diegel’s portrayal of Don José profoundly developed and progressed with the character when he is both loved and betrayed by Carmen, giving a transcendent quality to the development of the character.

Each member of the ensemble proved a necessary part of the performance. Ryan Kuster’s Escamillo was fiery, confident and engaging, and Karin Wolverton brought a stunning tenderness to the role of Micaëla. The rest of the ensemble was deeply invested in the drama of the whole plot, but not to the point of flamboyancy that would have made caricatures of the period.

When you go to the opera you expect many things: the stage to feel far removed from reality, the production to be both fantastic and mystical, and to be treated to a spectacle. This was not the experience of going to Carmen, and that was the best part of this interpretation. The characters felt so real and relatable that the audience had no choice but to laugh, cry and empathize with them. The production elements were both modern and rustic, making it easy for the audience to connect on a visceral plane.

If you were not able to make it to Carmen this weekend, the same production will be presented in Phoenix next weekend. Tickets for Carmen are available at azopera.org. The show will run Friday, Feb. 5 and Saturday, Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m., as well as Sunday, Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. in the Phoenix Symphony Hall. Ticket prices range between $25 and $160.


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