[Met Tour] CID:225610

Masonic Temple Auditorium, Detroit, Michigan, Wed, May 26, 1971

Carmen (675)
Georges Bizet | Henri Meilhac/Ludovic Halévy
Ruza Baldani

Don José
Richard Tucker

Lucine Amara

Robert Merrill

Judith De Paul

Frederica von Stade

Andrea Velis

Gene Boucher

James Morris

Robert Goodloe

Ignace Strasfogel

Review 1:

Review of Collins George in the Detroit Free Press

Opera's Popular 'Carmen' Well Sung but Overstaged

Bizet's "Carmen," the Metropolitan Opera's presentation Wednesday, is one of the most popular operas in the entire repertory. Just the mention that it is to be produced assures a sell-out house. This is true even though 99 percent of the audience had never heard of Ruza Baldani who sang the title role of the fiercely independent, tempestuous, sensual gypsy.

Miss Baldani turned out to be quite successful in the role which the Yugoslavian mezzo has sung many times before, especially with the Croatian State Opera of which she is a member. But she is a fine actress, catching Carmen's moodiness, making the wildness of her fickle nature believable and constructing an excellent portrait of a girl who is a law unto herself.

Her Don Jose was Richard Tucker, a veteran of 25 years at the Met, whose voice scarcely betrays his age and, if one can close one's eyes to his rather pouter-pigeon figure, is able to give the illusion in his dramatic tenor of the youthful heroes he is constantly called upon to play.

The Micaela who has two lovely arias in the first and third acts, her only times on the stage, was another Met veteran, Lucine Amara. But, as this matronly soprano sings to courtly Richard Tucker, one really does have to close one's eyes to envision the two simple young village persons they are supposed to portray.

The final principal is still another 25-year veteran of the company, Robert Merrill, who sings Escamillo, the bullfighter. He is a natural in both voice and figure for the part, with his one fine aria, the famous Toreador song. All of the singers in the secondary roles were quite good and in general one would rate this a well-sung "Carmen."

But one thing remains. Two or three years ago this new production of the opera was staged at great expense. It turned out to be a disaster but the company is stuck with it until some generous donor comes along to make a new production possible. The setting, for example, for the first act is wildly inappropriate, somewhat like the end of an amphitheater with literally a dozen exits in all directions and just as many short stairways leading to numerous levels. This is supposed to represent a public square in Seville. The same set is used in the second act, only a ragged tarpaulin is erected in the center and it is supposed then to become a tavern.

But not only the setting is bad in this production, the staging is positively inane. The curtain opens on what is supposed to be a busy square, only the people are performing a poorly choreographed and equally meaningless dance. In fact most of the first act is treated as a ballet with even the soldiers coming on stage for the changing of the guard in a stupid little dance step. And Carmen's escape which ends the act is the most miserably contrived and incredible thing seen on any operatic stage.

Jean-Louis Barrault, generally acclaimed a genius in the theater, is responsible for this production. This time, at least, he slipped up.

Thursday's production is the long-awaited new staging of Offenbach's "La Perichole," featuring Teresa Stratas in the title role.

Search by season: 1970-71

Search by title: Carmen,

Met careers