Carmen, Norwich

The Chisinau National Opera is one of the few Eastern European companies to have remained intact after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

By FRANK CLIFF

The Chisinau National Opera is one of the few Eastern European companies to have remained intact after the collapse of the Soviet Union, due in great measure to foreign tours, especially to the UK.

It opened for a week at the Theatre Royal, Norwich, last night with a production of Bizet's Carmen.

Sung in French with sur-titles, the story of Don Jose's love for the feckless Carmen is extremely well done, although it got off to a somewhat shaky start with the orchestral prelude, which had all the best tunes marred by some soured brass, and act one beginning with some initially wooden singing from the male chorus.

However it soon settled down, with the choral singing becoming in fact the high point of the evening.

Tatiana Busuioc made a fiery Carmen and looked wonderful although the voice was not always quite as ravishing, mostly because she seemed unhappy singing in French.

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Petru Racovita was a commanding presence and in excellent voice as the toreador, Escamillo, Dominic Natoli was an equally fine Don Jose and the young Korean soprano Rosa Lee Thomas managed to make Micaela, who so often appears wimpish, truly convincing.

The sets are sumptuous, though in the first two acts they take up so much room that they sometimes cramp the action. Nevertheless an excellently sung and convincing production.

t Carmen performances also Wednesday and Saturday this week. Box office: 01603 630000.

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