Long night at the opera: the opera part

Carmen: what can anybody say about the opera itself that hasn’t been said? Last night’s performance was the last for the current production by the Austin Lyric Opera. I’d be surprised if anyone gained last-minute admission. The house truly did appear to be sold out, although only at the last minute, when everyone rushed in. Curtain time was nearly ten minutes late. The intermissions, supposedly 20 minutes long, seemed interminable.

The adult chorus seemed ill coordinated at times, although the children’s chorus did not. All those barefoot peopole scampering around the stage seemed none the worse for their exposed soles. The set was handsome, although it didn’t fill the stage from side to side. The lighting, by David Nancarrow, was superb. Costumes were unremarkable, except for the handsome yellow uniforms of the soldiers, and this production had the worst, or perhaps worst executed, choreography I’ve ever witnessed in any Carmen. The orchestra and conductor, in what appears to be very roomy pit, could be seen by all, which is fun.

Of the singers, Jose (William Joyner) had a fine voice, and an expressive one, although he seemed ill at ease with some of the business he was required to perform. The Escamillo’s voice (Luis Ledesma) had a covered style that’s not my favorite, but physically he commanded the stage and was delightful to watch. Micaela (Barbara Davis) sang sweetly, without much presence. The Carmen’s voice (Beth Clayton) I liked, although there were a couple of times that intonation was a bit on the sharp side or the flat. The role of Lillas Pastia was performed well by Holton Johnson, a pillar of the Austin Gilbert & Sullivan Society. I’ll talk about those castanets a bit more later.

Much has been written about the acoustics of the new Long Center. All that I would tell from last night was that there seems to be quite a bit of amplification. The world has never heard such loud castanets, and they weren’t used competently enough to inflict them upon the audience at such volume. Something most peculiar about the acoustics was that audience conversation and applause sounded extremely loud, in a way that I’ve never heard before in any venue of any size. This was not a thrilling inauguration to compare with the Don Carlos, complete with the scene in the snowy forest, and the Verdi Requiem that opened the Performing Arts Center on campus all those years ago, but it was promising.

1 Comment so far

  1. Long night at the opera: the venue part | Austin Metblogs (pingback) on April 27th, 2008 @ 8:34 am

    […] quickly that it was possible to explore the various lobbies. I’ve written elsewhere about the acoustics, experienced so far at just one performance. I look forward to attendiing performances other than […]

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