Sultry Carmen at The Regent


Carmen - Credit: Archant

Carmen Ipswich Regent Theatre October 22 Music: Georges Bizet Libretto: Henri Meilhac, Ludovic Halevy

It’s not often you see a live donkey on the stage of the Ipswich Regent.

But this production by Ellen Kent of Carmen cuts no corners.

The lavish costumes, the grand set, the tableaux, the plentiful cast, the props, are all up to the usual high standards Ellen Kent has become known for over the last 20 or so years.

The story of a fiery gypsy girl in which passions run high and drama is never far away, the synergy between Bizet’s score and the sentiments and feelings acted out on stage is evident throughout.

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Set in Seville and sung in French, the action opens in front of a cigarette factory where young soldiers are enjoying the scenery as a group of women emerge from the factory gates.

Carmen, a sultry, sexually liberated seductress, introduces herself with the famous Habanera aria - “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle”, performed by the talented mezzo-soprano Zarui Vardanean. As she finishes she throws a flower at the corporal Don Jose, a sign of her interest and intent.

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The opera tells the story of the downfall of Don Jose, sung by the skilful tenor Vitalii Liskovetskyi, as he gets caught up within the world of Carmen and her criminal associates – a gang of smugglers – and leaves behind his future with the sweet but powerless Micaela, sung with expertise by Maria Tonina.

As the story progresses another man, Escamillo the bullfighter catches the fickle Carmen’s eye. Played by Iurie Gisca, Escamillo sings the famous and foot tapping Toreador Song “Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre” and is a joy to listen to.

Though the production perhaps lacked a tiny bit of energy in places, the opera is well performed and engaging throughout and as the tension grows and the music swells operatic tragedy inevitably draws near.

The colours of the production are vivid, the lighting effects subtle, the quality performances plus the timeless musical score, and the donkey as well, this production of Carmen is an enjoyable and entertaining show.

James Marston

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