Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Carmen, Wiener Staatsoper, Wien 15. May 2010

On 15. May 2010 it was the fifth and last performance of the run of the classical Franco Zeffirelli's production of Georges Bizet's "Carmen" at the Wiener Staatsoper, starring Nadia Krasteva in the title role, Massimo Giordano as Don José, Anna Netrebko as Micaela and Ildebrando d'Arcangelo as Escamillo. The conductor was Andris Nelsons.

The performance was broadcast live by Ö1 radio.

Music by Georges Bizet
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on the novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée

Wiener Staatsoper, Wien 15. May 2010

Inszenierung: Franco Zeffirelli
Bühnenbild: Franco Zeffirelli
Kostüme: Leo Bei
Choreographie: Rafael de Córdoba
Chorleitung: Thomas Lang

Carmen: Nadia Krasteva
Don José: Massimo Giordano
Micaela: Anna Netrebko
Escamillo: Ildebrando d'Arcangelo
Frasquita: Anita Hartig
Mercedes: Zoryana Kushpler
Zúñiga: Alexandru Moisiuc
Morales: Boaz Daniel
Remendado: Herwig Pecoraro
Dancaire: Tae Joong Yang

Conductor: Andris Nelsons
Chor und Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper

Personal Report
The last weekend I have been in Wien to attend live the last performance of the run of "Carmen" at the Wiener Staatsoper on 15. May 2010. I got the tickets for this performance beginning of December 2009 and I was very much looking forward to attending this performance, as it was truly the highlight of the opera season at the Wiener Staatsoper and, therefore, one of the main highlights of the opera season worldwide.

The reason behind an initially announced superb dream cast with Elina Garanca in the title role, Rolando Villazón as Don José, Anna Netrebko as Micaela and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as Escamillo. Mariss Jansons was the conductor. The first cast change arised long time ago, when Rolando Villazón withdraw from all of the performances and was substituted by Massimo Giordano. Massimo had sung before with Anna Netrebko in two performances of Manon at the Wiener Staatsoper in April 2008, and more recently in a series of concerts in Germany, Scandinavia and France. Further cast changes were announced some weeks before the premiere. It was first Mariss Jansons who withdraw from all the performances, being substituted by his scholar Andris Nelsons for most of the performances. Just a few days later, the main cast change was announced. Elina Garanca withdraw from all the performances, being substituted by Nadia Krasteva. This cast change was particularly upsetting, as Elina got a huge success as Carmen at the Caracalla Termes, Royal Opera House and Metropolitan Opera House and to get together the couple Elina-Anna on stage was one of the key points of those series of performances. The initially announced dream cast was over.

Finally the key date, 15. May 2010, arrived and I was there, at the Wiener Staatsoper, seating at the 4th row of the Parkett, perfectly centered. Andris Nelsons took his place at the pit and the performance started.

Let me say first a few words about the production by Franco Zeffirelli. The settings were absolutely gorgeous! I had seen a Zeffirelli's production of Carmen at the Arena di Verona some years ago, and it was gorgeous too, but to have all those magnificent settings, particularly those of the 2nd and 3rd Acts, on stage at an opera house was even better. A colourful square of Sevilla in the 1st Act, a manificient Lillas Pastia's Inn in the 2nd Act, a deep black, cold and rainy night at the mountains in the 3rd Act and the "Plaza de Toros" of Sevilla in the 4th Act. The costumes were also colourful and nice, with an overcrowded stage.

Nadia Krasteva as Carmen had a difficult role replacing Elina Garanca. She has a very nice voice and she was also acting convingly on stage. She really had too much makeup on her eyes. Massimo Giordano was singing very well and his acting was also convincing. He was at his best on the scenes with Anna on the first and third act. Ildebrando D'Arcangelo was also portraying a convincing "torero" Escamillo.

But the true highlight of the performance was Anna Netrebko, who was stunning beyond description, warm and deep voice in the lower registers and powerful in the higher ones. She portrayed two different Micaelas. In the first act, she is innocent and girlish, dancing around the soldiers, while in the third act we see a Micaela, full of energy and charismatic.The main and more enthousiastic applauses of the night were for Anna after her first aria in the 3rd Act.

The rest of the cast was also pretty good. Boaz Daniel as Morales, Anita Hartig as Frasquita, Zoryana Kushpler as Mercedes, Alexandru Moisiuc as Zúñiga, Herwig Pecoraro as Remendado and Tae Joong Yang  as Dancaire. I would like also to mention the fantastic Flamenco ballet on the 2nd Act.

Andris Nelsons was superb conducting. He has a very energetic and expressive style, getting everything under control. I would like to highlight the care he shown conducting when Anna was singing the Micaela's aria "Ah! Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante" at the 3rd Act, giving her all the indications with soft motions of her left hand.

The audience was delighted with the performance and the singers were awarded with strong ovations and "Bravi".

At the end of the performance I was at the stage door to meet the singers. After Anita Hartig and Zoryana Kushpler, the first to come were Anna and Massimo. They were signing autographs to all the fans who were there for them. After a while, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo joined them signing autographs. I met also there Mariella Luger, a young Austrian soprano student who had been a "super" in those performances. She wrote a wonderful report for the blog, about her fantastic experience as a super in Carmen at the Wiener Staatsoper. Nadia Krasteva and Andris Nelsons came later. Finally Anna, Massimo, Nadia Krasteva, Ioan Holender and others went to have dinner to a restaurant at Karlsplatz.

Carmen, 2. Act: La fleur que tu m'avais jetée, Wiener Staatsoper, Wien 15. Mai 2010


  1. Hi Carlos:
    Thank you so much for the beautiful report. Anna is wonderful, both as a singer and an actress, and my personal goal for the nearest future is to see her live. I almost saw her in Washington in March, but it did not work out.
    I will probably see Carmen with Elina Garanca at the Met in the fall. Hopefully, she won't withdraw from that run.
    How lucky are we to share the planet with Anna, Elina, Joyce, Juan Diego, Dmitry and so many more - and to be able to enjoy the talents of people who have taken opera up on a totally new different level?!!

  2. Hi Raissa, I like your sentence: "How lucky are we to share the planet with Anna, Elina, Joyce, Juan Diego, Dmitry and so many more". I am going to see Elina as Carmen here in Munich, together with Jonas Kaufmann as Don José. It is just a dream, but if Anna joined them.......

  3. Elina, Jonas and Anna would have been a super-dream-cast ;)))

  4. How true, Carlos, but I have to confess: Genia Kühmeier (although nobody knows her), who will sing Micaela in Munich, is second best to Anna IN THIS ROLE! So it is (almost) a super-dream-cast! And don't forget Ildebrando d'Arcangelo!

  5. I have never heard about her... so it looks really like a dream cast ;)))



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