Saturday, October 2, 2010

Carmen, The Lyric Opera of Kansas City

This performance starred Sandra Piques Eddy as Carmen, Dinyar Vania as Don Josè, Alison Cambridge as Micaẽla, Marcelo Guzzo as Escamillo, Stephen Fish as Morales, Amy Cahill as Frasquita, and Christina Hager as Mercedes. The Concert took place at the Lyric Opera House of Kansas City at 8:00 pm on Saturday, September 25th, 2010.

As a viewer, I have to say that this was probably the very best rendition of Carmen I have ever seen, or hope to see. Carmen is the feminist of all feminists, the one who lives purely by her selfish, narcissistic values and uses her beauty as a means to control men. To Carmen, the world centered around her, and she expected the affections of all men to follow suite. But Sandra Piques Eddy did not leave the character of Carmen there, she created a real woman, spoiled and selfish, but who was not without depth. Carmen elevated her freedom as her god, much the same way as an atheist will defy God in order to exercise his own self-sufficiency, completely relinquishing his freedom in the process. Sandra displayed a Carmen who wished to mold a man according to her own wishes, and realized at the end that she had created a monster. Carmen tightened the rope around her own neck by demanding that Don Jose forsake virtue for her sake.

Don Jose was also masterful, displaying not just a man who was destroyed passively by Carmen, but a man with his own, preexisting vices, who let his infatuation with Carmen inspire lust and bring out the violence which was already in his character. This also reflects on the power of a woman to effect either virtue or vice in a man. Don Jose did everything that Carmen asked of him, bent to her every will, and in destroying him, she also destroyed herself. What a powerful dual message, that no man or woman can lead you into sin unless you give them your permission, but also how a foolish woman tears down her house with her own hands.

The Lyric took that extra artistic step when it hired a native French speaker, Bernard Uzan, to be stage director, and render Carmen in its original glory, with spoken stage dialogue. Not only was this Bizet's original intent for the opera, but it casts an additional helping of realism to the scene. Carmen was literally jumping off the stage and into our midst as a real woman. The music is ablsolutely masterful in its ability to mirror in our emotions the depths of the hole Carmen is building for herself, and the coquettish of her attitude. The temptation of absolute personal freedom from consequence is in fact a trap with a sickly sweet bait, a trap which too many Americans, especially the youth and young adults, believe and advocate with a dying finality. Carmen is a lesson for our time. There are consequences for our actions, that no one can lead another blindly into sin, and that wholesome relationships between men and women are drastically important for the preservation of virtue in each other.