This ballet version of Carmen may be condensed into 5 scenes but that certainly doesn't mar the emotional power of the story and Bizet's sublime music. This production, choreographed by Roland Petit and starring Zizi Jeanmaire and Mikhail Baryshnikov, is interesting and very well and solidly done. It's not perfect, there could have been much more passion between Jeanmaire and Baryshnikov and the sets are unappealingly drab. However, the costumes have a nice simple Spanish charm, the lighting is dynamic and the video directing and sound are fine. Petit's choreography is both graceful, in a way that's understated but still allows the dramatic passion of the story come through, and sexy without being vulgar, it's also innovative and towards the end subtly exciting. Bizet's music is beautifully and stylishly played by the orchestra, with the Spanish rhythms constantly sharply articulated, and is conducted with authority and sympathy to the drama. The Corps-De-Ballet are very well-rehearsed and dance beautifully, re-acting believably to the increasingly intense drama, and the principal performances likewise. Particularly good among the principals are (predictably) Baryshnikov as a youthful, ardent yet appropriately tortured Don Jose and Denis Ganio's swaggering Toreador. Jeanmaire dances with real grace, smooth transitions and beautiful lines, though dramatically she can be more gamine than sultry. All in all, has imperfections but an interesting production that is also on the whole solidly done. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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