Carmen - Opera Brava

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Millennium Plain, Norwich


Millennium Plain, Norwich

Fortune sometimes fortunes the valiant, even with this wretched summer, and a great crowd at the Forum enjoyed Opera Brava's free open-air performance of Carmen.

Temperatures remained high well into the evening and there was not a drop of rain, as Bizet's pulsating melodrama went on from lyric highlights to its violent end.

The staging, on a platform with a single backdrop, was pretty rudimentary. But costumes, dancing and, from the women in particular, haughty body language conveyed something of traditional Spanish character.

Maria Jones, despite a throat infection was a striking Carmen. Tall, slim but powerful, she was convincing as she twisted men around her little fingers with a knowing air. It was a pity she could not make more of her bewitching dance in act one. As her counterpart Michaela, Gillian Webster was the best in all the cast at making her voice heard.

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The tenor Daniel Meades took the role of Don Jose. He had difficulty in winning much sympathy after losing out in love and turning vicious. As the toreador, Marc Callahan was more attractive, elegant, if not physically very imposing.

At the piano, musical director Alistair Lilley worked like a Trojan from beginning to end.

The singers performed without amplification. Members of the audience sitting at the back wondered whether that was really sensible. It would also be splendid if a sponsor could be found for a free one-page plot summary next time. And a next time there must be.