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Subject: The Metropolitan Opera premiere of Bizet's "Don Jose"
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Date:Thu, 29 Apr 2010 01:15:16 EDT
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We just returned - 1am, from Carmen at the Met. As my title implies, they  
should have called the opera "Don Jose". 
 
It will be no surprise that the evening was totally dominated by Jonas  
Kaufmann who was sensational.
The rest of the cast ranged from good (the Micaela --Maija Kovalevska, to  
fair the Carmen - Kate Aldrich, to poor, the Escamillo Mariusz Kwiecien who 
was  all but voiceless. The conducting by Alain Altinoglu was professional, 
but this  perhaps most dynamic of opera scores seemed listless. 
 
Kaufmann got the only big ovation for the Flower Song, an exquisite  
performance, in which he executed a perfect messa di voce. (Kovalevska got  a nice 
hand after her aria, but neither the Carmen nor Escamillo got much  
applause, a first in my Carmen going experience.
 
Except for the times when Kaufmann was singing, it was a hard slog, I can't 
 recall a Carmen in which the Carmen got not one brava after any of her big 
arias  (at least not that I heard, perhaps others heard them!). Aldrich who 
worked  very hard and who seemed to know what she was about, appeared to 
have  intonation problems, at least as heard from our seats in the Family 
Circle in  row H on  the side. Kaufmann was stupendous in the final scene 
producing  gorgeous tones lying on his stomach which had to be heard to be 
believed. His  acting was achingly impressive. He was Don Jose to the core.
 
The production is strikingly handsome and stylish.
 
Before the performance there was a frenzy of people trying to get tickets.  
I normally don't believe in going to an opera just to hear one singer, but 
in  this case it was worth it. One more performance of "Don Jose" on  
Saturday night. Those who can go, should go.
 
James Camner

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