Reviewer's Rating

My most vivid memory of a Carmen goes back to the mid 80’s when I was privileged to watch Zeffirelli’s own production at the Staatsoper Wien with Teresa Berganza and José Carreras.

Photo: Yossi Zwecker

It kept haunting me for years, trying to compare any opera production, not just Carmen, with that close-to-perfection experience.

However, this memory was not the main element that stopped my full enjoyment from the current Carmen at the Israeli Opera. Yes, it has some very notable virtues, first and foremost Elena Maximova’s as Carmen. She is an ideal choice for the role, and there aren’t too many of them. Her big warm mezzo, dramatic skills and movement portrayed a very genuine and convincing Carmen. Najmiddin Mavlyanov was a worthy partner as Don Jose, so were Hila Baggio as Micaela and Oded Reich as Morales. The rest of the cast was less impressive. All visual aspects were beautifully taken care of: stage design, costumes, lighting and choreography.

Photo: Yossi Zwecker

Bizet’s monumental score was well performed by the orchestra and two choirs. Conductor Kamensek’s tempo in the overture was the fastest I have ever heard, but with such popular music you can’t look at some novelty as a disadvantage.

My main disappointment was with the way I felt during the production and immediately thereafter: I was totally untouched, unmoved. No excitement projected from the stage, to which I almost got used to with most of the productions of the outgoing season here at the Israeli Opera. There was a strong sense of going through the motions. Doing very well – but no more.