‘Carmen’ has all the right stuff

By Juliet Schoen / Theater Critic

Los Angeles Opera’s production of Bizet’s “Carmen” was satisfying in every way. First, there was the eponymous heroine, played by Viktoria Vizin, a Hungarian mezzo who is handsome and statuesque and could stand out in any crowd. She has a sensuous, throaty voice that could beguile any man. The man in this case is Don Jose, the na├»ve soldier who falls heavily in every sense. The role is taken by the reliable tenor, Marcus Haddock. Not noted for his acting, he nevertheless comes through with laudable intensity.

Other key roles in this familiar opera are undertaken by Genia Kuhmeier, as the forsaken sweetheart, Micaela, and Raymond Aceto, as the toreador, Escamillo. Kuhmeier has a sweet soprano suited to her well-known arias, and Aceto impresses with his rousing bass voice. All the members of the large cast contributed mightily.

The sets and costumes were beautiful. In the first act, taken near the cigarette factory where Carmen works, the theme color was a luscious peach. Later, more dramatic hues were adopted, ending with the heroine in a fiery red. Gerardo Tutti was responsible for the realistic settings, which included a dramatic depiction of the mountain hideaway of the smugglers. The costumes by Jesus del Pozo were evocative of the Spanish dress but highly original.

Nuria Castejon deserves honorable mention for the choreography, always an important part of the opera. Javier Ulacia did a fine job of directing and Emmanuel Villaume conducted, with verve, the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra.

This “Carmen” has it all, great cast, fine production values and the wonderful music of Bizet.