Review: Carmen - Edinburgh Grand Opera, Lyceum Theatre

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A fresh and classy production of Bizet’s most famous work, Carmen, is running at the Royal Lyceum this week.

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A fresh and classy production of Bizet’s most famous work, Carmen, is running at the Royal Lyceum this week.

Carmen follows the intertwining love stories of the soldier, Don Jose, the innocent peasant girl, Micaela, the Toreador, Escamillo and the wily gypsy girl, Carmen.

Don Jose is lured into Carmen’s bohemian lifestyle after he flees the army having assaulted a superior, but Carmen quickly tires of the soldier and falls in love with the celebrated Toreador, Escamillo. Enraged with Carmen and filled with jealousy, Don Jose murders the heroine.

Edinburgh Grand’s production is enhanced by the addition of a new character – a non-singing, older version of the character Mercedes (played by Jennifer Hainey) who narrates the story in English. This effective addition makes the complex plot accessible to non-French speakers and first-timers.

Another welcome change is the introduction of short pieces of choreography, choreographed and performed by Scott Robertson with his partner Sarah Aitken.

The principle cast features and array of talented singers supported by a very strong chorus and an excellent youth chorus from The Edinburgh branch of NYCOS.

Natasha Day’s performance of the timid Micaela is particularly strong and her polished soprano blends beautifully with that of her love interest, Don Jose (played by tenor, Adam Magee). The supporting roles of Frasquita and Mercedes — played by Susan McNaught and Ditte Errboe — are also notable performances and their duet at the beginning of Act II is a particular highlight. Christina Dunwoodie’s tasteful direction is epitomised in Carmen’s death scene as she falls to the ground wrapped in red silk from the set.

With an elegant set design by Annette Gilles, impressive costumes and a flawless orchestra under the baton of Neil Metcalfe, Edinburgh Grand Opera have a production worth seeing.

Run ends Saturday.

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