Carmen, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Carmen, for the umpteenth time. Even before the overture the character of this Glyndebourne production is conveyed by designer Michael Vale's setting.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Carmen, for the umpteenth time. Even before the overture the character of this Glyndebourne production is conveyed by designer Michael Vale's setting.

The tobacco factory is a jumble of stairs, pipes and gratings – gratings that are especially symbolic. Realism has given a biting edge to romance, and the emotions are all raw.

More traditional interpretations come across from the first bars of the music, as conductor Louis Langree puts passion into the throbbing rhythms and enjoys the full technicolor of Georges Bizet's instrumentation.

Whether spoken or sung, the text is in French but the supertitles overcome any difficulties of following the actions and sometimes even add humour with lines like “defiant flirtatious glances”.

It is a pity, that in a drama contrasting the demands of the heart and duty, the troops of soldiers under director David McVicar are such slouches when it comes to drill movements.

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Vocally the performance is impressive, except for the two smuggler chiefs. Christine Rice is perhaps rather too knowing a Carmen. In the role of Jose, the mummy's boy who can only express his love by hurting women, Peter Auty is a little stodgy. As Micaela, Helen Williams seems more intent on pouring out gorgeous tone than creating a vulnerable character.

t Carmen is performed again at the Theatre Royal, Norwich, on Friday November 15. Box office: 01603 630000.

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