Thursday, May 9, 2019

Praise for Carmen

Seattle Opera presents Carmen. Sunny Martini photo
"All in all, it’s Seattle Opera’s most thoroughly successful show since last summer’s dazzling Porgy and Bess, and I encourage you not to miss it." - Seattle Magazine 

"...in Ginger Costa-Jackson and Frederick Ballentine, Seattle Opera has the most real, most convincing Carmen and Jose I’ve ever seen. (Zanda Švēde and Adam Smith takes the roles in the production’s alternate cast, and Ballentine, unbelievably, stepped in for ailing tenor Scott Quinn on just a few days’ notice.) - Seattle Magazine  

Carmen offers "three acts of exquisite earworms and engaging action scattered with visual pop-culture references, followed by a final act — still beautifully sung — that is horrifyingly effective." - The Seattle Times

"Two performers who got it just right were Madison Leonard and Sarah Coit. As Frasquita and Mercédès they were a perfect pair, musically well-blended yet able to shine in their solo moments. They sang well, moved fluently, looked terrific, and had just the right world-weary yet upbeat attitude." - Opera Wire

Ginger Costa-Jackson (Carmen)'s performance dates include May 4, 8, 12, 17, & 19. Sunny Martini photo
"Ginger Costa-Jackson's Carmen rivets the attention whenever she is on stage. She looks the part and acts it like a second skin – a come-hither, sultry, sensuous siren. Every movement she makes: hips, shoulders, even the way she regards people from under her eyelids, signal who she is and that she’s beautiful ... And Costa-Jackson can sing, superbly." Bachtrack 

"Thanks to the sets and costumes designed by Gary McCann and the lighting design by Paul Hackenmueller, this production is beautiful and exciting from start to finish. The 1950s aesthetic is used to a dazzling effect and makes for some clever moments with girl group choreography (courtesy of Associate Director and Choreographer Seth Hoff) and motorcycle entrances. The orchestra, under the baton of Giacomo Sagripanti is lively and dynamic. While all of these fantastic elements would be enough for a successful production of Carmen, they play devastatingly against the tragic moments of the opera. In particular, the fantastical parade in honor of the bullfighters is followed immediately by the very unflashy and incredibly disturbing confrontation between Carmen and Don José." - Drama in the Hood 

"And in Seattle Opera's current staging (Carmen) is also highly entertaining. Director Paul Curran has wisely focused on the comic aspects of the opera. The production is bright, colorful, at times even boisterous. It is a lot of fun. If there’s a children’s chorus in this opera - and there is - then it will be an adorable bunch of scamps singing and marching around the stage." -Andy Nicastro 

"Tenor Frederick Ballentine deserves all kinds of kudos for his performance. He has sung the role previously and has a beautiful, expressive voice, but this new production is extremely active, and José’s role runs the gamut from quiet bystander to smoldering, passionate lover and self-doubter, to jealous, violent, out-of-control killer. Ballentine, who might have had one run through of the staging earlier, nailed the role both vocally and as an actor." Bachtrack 

Zanda Švēde (Carmen)'s performance dates include May 5, 11, 15, & 18. Pictured here with Rodion Pogossov as Escamillo. Sunny Martini photo
"The performers, as to be expected in opera, where world-class is a descriptor to which every singer has to live up, are chin-to-the-ground good. Švēde, who was the lead on the day I saw 'Carmen,' almost vibrates in her intensity, her honeyed mezzo-soprano lithely moving back and forth between alluring and penetrative. In his Seattle debut, the opera’s director, Paul Curran, accentuates the intensity." - The UW Daily

"The extensive cast was incredibly well rehearsed and there just a – joy – emanating from the stage Saturday evening. When an audience demands several curtain calls, you know the performance was a hit in anyone’s book."- Eclectic Arts 

"It’s a gorgeous production, too. Gary McCann’s costumes and billboard-dominated set seem to place the action around 1950 and possibly in Cuba." - Seattle Magazine 

"The supporting cast was strong. Ryan Bede was a refreshingly capable Moralès, not just vocally, but as one of the only officers on stage that was competent at his job. Daniel Sumegi was a well-seasoned, slightly raspy Zuniga. John Marzano and Mark Diamond as Remendado and Dancäire were mischievous and sang a tight, witty quintet." - Opera Wire

"Rodion Pogossov’s Escamillo is energetic and lively. His clowning around during the “Toreador Song” - I believe he steals a move or two from Chuck Berry - fit in nicely with the production's light-hearted tone."   -Andy Nicastro 

Vanessa Goikoetxea (Micaëla). Philip Newton photo
"As Don José’s commanding officer and a rejected suitor of Carmen, bass-baritone Daniel Sumegi’s Zuniga channeled Alan Rickman with a mixture of chronic irritation and vague menace." - The Seattle Times

"The effective lighting of the sets, by Paul Hackenmueller, was well nuanced, such as the shadowy tavern corners with spotlights just on the action itself and the important characters." Bachtrack 

"Vanessa Goikoetxea deployed her strong soprano to reveal what’s really under Micaela’s timid exterior, and, after her Act 3 aria, earned the night’s loudest ovation for it." - Seattle Magazine  

Sarah Coit (Mercédès), Rodion Pogossov (Escamillo), and Madison Leonard (Frasquita). Philip Newton photo

"Don José’s intended fiancée, Micaëla, exists solely to counterbalance Carmen as a wholesome example of femininity; it’s a shallowly written role. But soprano Vanessa Goikoetxea (Emily Dorn on alternate nights) gives it such depth of character that, while we love to watch Carmen, in real life, we’d rather know Goikoetxea’s Micaëla." - The Seattle Times

"Stage director Paul Curran’s coherent concept succeeded seamlessly. Bringing Carmen into a different era lost none of the opera’s impact. Lastly, none of this would have been as successful without the music so ably played by Seattle Symphony members under Giacomo Sagripanti." Bachtrack 

Adam Smith (Don José) and Zanda Švēde (Carmen). Sunny Martini photo

Carmen plays May 4-19, 2019 at McCaw Hall. 
Tickets & info: seattleopera.org/carmen