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Carmen                  Opera Theatre of St. Louis, 2004

Judith Malafronte - Opera News

Opera Theater of Saint Louis’s five-week season offered repertory staples, something old and something new-ish, in a variety of production styles, and with nearly uniform success. …

Erhard Rom’s set for Carmen was brilliantly simple: a large, deteriorating fence that served as various outside structures,the inside tavern wall and, for Act IV, the back of the bullring, with Escamillo’s digs suggested in the foreground.  Tim Ocel’s vivid, traditional staging and DeanWilliamson’s sure command from the pit highlighted the ensemble aspect of this production, with sharp characterizations from the entire cast.

John Bellemer was a fine Don Jose, lyrical in voice and manner; in Act III, he touchingly portrayed the humiliation and desperation of a man totally out of his element, making plausible Carmen’s frustration with a guy who was sexy only when enraged.  Kyle Ketelsen’s Escamillo was assured and confident, with plenty of vocal glamour, and Lauren Skuce was a sympathetic, firm-voiced Micaela.  Former apprentice artist Alyson Cambridge offered a hearty, full-throated Frasquita.

With a little less caution approaching high notes, Jennifer Dudley might be a perfect, slightly offbeat Carmen.  True to Merimee’s text, she was saucy, independent, vulnerable and principled, more in-your-face than smolderingly vampish.  Her voice was also a welcome change from many Carmens: its refreshing clarity and musical precision still provided plenty of power and allure.

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