Archive for November, 2017

Carmen: fast, furious, and fiery

Austin Opera continues to be an outstanding asset to Austin. The number of children in the audience at the opening performance of Carmen was astonishing; even more astonishing is that they stayed to the end and were not restless. These were elementary-school students. Perhaps they were in attendance to see and hear siblings perform in the children’s chorus, which was excellent, as was the large adult chorus.

The orchestra grows better and better and better. Under the baton of Richard Buckley, it rendered true justice to the beautiful score.

The principal singers embodied their characters well, and they sang exceptionally, solo and with other members of the cast. Austin Opera is especially fortunate to have such strong singers in the roles of Don Jose and Escamillo. It sometimes seems that the male members of a cast do not rise to the level of the female singers, but such is not at all the case in this production.

Set in Spain, the four-act opera by Georges Bizet is sung in French. Above the stage, there are supertitles in English. The translation is good and the coordination of the titles with the action on stage was always precise.

Although there was perhaps an element of almost silent-screen action in the last act, with somewhat overwrought physical action and dramatic movement, the direction of the large cast was otherwise supremely managed throughout, taking every advantage of the versatile and handsome set.

In some performance of this work, professional dancers take the stage in certain scenes, in this one the singers appeared to execute the inventive choreography themselves, and very well.

On line there’s a synopsis of the plot. Those who do not know the opera should ignore it and be drawn in by the momentum of the unfolding action.

Acts I and II last 90 minutes. A 25-minute admission is followed by acts III and IV, running 60 minutes, so that the total performance time is about three hours.

Advance tickets are available for the remaining shows: 7:30 PM, Thursday, November 16; and 2:30 PM, Sunday, November 19.

Performances are at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 West Riverside Drive. Early arrival allows enjoyment of the scenic terrace looking toward downtown.

Be warned: parking at One Texas Center that was once free, with designated spaces for Car2Go vehicles, is now behind a barrier and costs $5; a credit card must be used. Opera-goers did not know how to get in to the lot (there are bollards and drop barriers), and they did not know how to exit.

The parking annoyance, however, is no reason at all to miss this memorable production of Carmen.

A day of observance: honoring our veterans

Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders passed by in review, a nearby tourist said, in apparent amazement, “Look! They’re all girls!” And so they were. And they were wonderful, and so were the marchers from Del Valle, as always.

It was a fine day, and the Austin Veterans’ Day parade was splendid.

There had been murmurings of controversy over what flags or banners might be displayed. The mayor did not seem to be in evidence; nor did there seem to be any display of the types of flags or banners that had inspired discussion.

View some visual souvenirs in the form of still Veterans’ Day parade, Austin, 2017 and videos. Many were the poppies; many were the Stars and Stripes. Happy were the faces.

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