The second of the two performance of Winter Opera St. Louis’ Carmen is Sunday afternoon, March 5 at 3 p.m. It’s particularly approachable in that this is a show whose music has been heard in a hundred places without most of us realizing it was from an opera, so it’s easy to smile at hearing what turns out to be, say, “March of the Toreadors” or “Habanera”.
Carmen is a gypsy (Romani people must regard this the way Japanese regard The Mikado), a seductress who works in a cigarette factory. She’s sung by Benedetta Orsi, whose voice is remarkable. She aims her charms at a corporal, Don Jose, sung by Jorge Pita Carreras. His is one of those performances that grows as the evening passes, restrained both in manner and voice early on and then growing as the intensity of his situation increases.
Neil Nelson is Escamillo, the toreador of whom much is sung. He’s delightful, enjoying his fame and his flirtability as he goes after Carmen. And patrons of Opera Theatre will recognize Robert McNichols, Jr., as Zuniga, the lieutenant of Jose’s dragoon company, giving us wonderful voice and almost its equal in swagger.
There’s also a children’s chorus of delightfully Dickensian ragamuffins. And they sound great, especially in their first number.
The set is very simple, a deliberately askew pair of wooden stairs and crossover, but it works well. Particular kudos to the lighting of Sean Savoie, which is very effective, especially in Carmen’s first appearance where her face is in near-total shadow but her decolletage is in the spotlight. Matthew Haney directed.
And good acoustics at the Heagney Center at Chaminade Prep – the St. Louis Theatre Circle is happy to use that venue for our annual awards coming up March 20. [Yes. Shameless plug.]
Winter Opera St. Louis
through March 5, 2017