Opera Scotland

Carmen 2016Ellen Kent Productions

Read more about the opera Carmen

The spring 2016 tour by Ellen Kent's troupe, presented by Opera and Ballet International,  brought back three familiar operas in repertoire - Carmen, Tosca and Die Fledermaus. The Scottish leg of the tour was brief, less than a week, with three destinations. The Strauss operetta was only scheduled for Edinburgh, Tosca for both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Carmen appeared everywhere. The schedule was: Glasgow Royal Concert Hall - Tue 8 Mar Tosca, Wed 9 Mar Carmen; Edinburgh Playhouse - Thu 10 Mar Fledermaus, Fri 11 Mar Tosca, Sat 12 Mar Carmen; Dundee Caird Hall - Sunday 13 Mar Carmen.

It must be challenging to schedule a touring opera programme that includes visits to every part of the British Isles. When in addition a repertoire is restricted to popular works, it is probable that there will be clashes with the resident companies. It was perhaps unfortunate that Scottish Opera had produced such a successful revival of Carmen the previous autumn, which may have deterred potential audiences in the central belt. Happily the Ellen Kent company sometimes visits Dundee, a city that has never seen a full-scale staging by the national company.

The performance in the Caird Hall was much enjoyed by the audience, though this was fewer in number than the company usually attracts. The principal roles were well taken, with a new mezzo, Liza Kadelnik, making an excellent impression in the title role - an attractive voice, strong technique and good acting ability. Perhaps even more impressive was Ruslan Zinevych as Don José. He has been a leading member of these tours for a dozen years now, and his voice has developed from a sweet, easy lyric tenor to something far more dramatic. His singing in the last two acts produced some ringing tone that still sounded beautiful. He is also a convincing actor. He still needs to work on his French, but his diction was certainly no worse than that of the others. Perhaps sensibly, the old, traditional edition with Guiraud's recits was used, avoiding the need to cope with spoken dialogue.

Alyona Kistenyova has a beautiful lyric soprano, and made much of Micaëla's aria and the duets with José. In a most unusual feature of the casting, she also doubled up, singing the role of Frasquita - which required a quick change in the third act when both characters appear within seconds. The Escamillo, perfectly acceptable if perhaps lacking a bit in charisma, performed a similar feat by singing Moralès in the opening scene.

This company always emphasises the traditional production values that it upholds. The stage was filled by a large unit set that looked like a grand baroque civic building - acceptable, if not ideal, for the opening act tobacco factory and final act bullring. It was less appropriate for the middle acts - the inn and the wintry mountain pass. To this member of the audience, it seemed to affect the sound. The Caird Hall's natural acoustic is of a famously high quality, but this shell, which might be necessary in other, less sympathetic venues, seemed to damage the balance. This was not just a matter for the singers - though sometimes their sound in ensemble was unnaturally fierce. The orchestra also sounded out of balance on occasion, with an over-emphasis on brass and, especially, percussion.

Performance Cast

Moralès a corporal of dragoons

Iuri Gisca

Micaëla a peasant girl

Alyona Kistenyova (Mar 13)

Maria Tsonina

Don José a corporal of dragoons

Ruslan Zinevych (Mar 13)

Vitalii Liskovetskyi

Zuniga a lieutenant of dragoons

Valeriu Cojocaru

Carmen a gypsy

Liza Kadelnik

Frasquita a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Alyona Kistenyova (Mar 13)

Maria Tsonina

Mercédès a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Irina Melnic

Escamillo a toreador

Iuri Gisca

Dancaïre a smuggler

Vladimir Dragos

Remendado a smuggler

Ruslan Pacatovici

Performance DatesCarmen 2016

Map List

Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow | Glasgow

9 Mar, 19.30

Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

12 Mar, 19.30

Caird Hall | Dundee

13 Mar, 19.30

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