Carmen is my favorite opera. Maria Ewing is my favorite Carmen (even preferable to Victoria de los Angeles in the Beecham set from the 1950's). Zubin Mehta is my favorite opera conductor. So my pleasure is complete with this performance from Covent Garden in 1989.
One of the major assets of this film is the realism of sets and costumes. The soldiers look like soldiers, the factory girls like factory girls, the smugglers like smugglers. The buildings look like what you imagine Spanish buildings of the 19th century looked like. The urge to make the sets look like futuristic concepts has been resisted.
Luis Lima sings Don Jose with commitment. It's great to hear a lyric tenor sing the part, instead of dramatic tenors like Vickers or Domingo. It is much more intimate and moving. Maria Ewing is tremendous as Carmen. She never lets go of the dramatic thread. See how she deals with the mass of dancers at the beginning of Act II (Danse bohemienne): she is always in charge of things. Leontina Vaduva as the good girl Jose is supposed to marry is sweet and winning. This is the Carmen DVD to have.
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