Carmen is one of the most popular operas in the world, and a few hours ago it was opening night in Miami for a new production. Except for the music and the song, it was a dissapointment.
The whole idea with opera is to appeal to emotions, and for that to happen the scenery on stage has to be believable. Of course it is fake, but it must have some semblance to the reality for it to be believable.
This production, though, was like the blue comic-strip smurf characters that can replace any word with the word “smurf,” in that a simple wood chair could symbolize anything: A rifle, arbitrary smuggle-goods; and even a chair. To make this clear the wall was covered with those chairs, too. In combination with the often blue light on the stage the association went to the smurfs.
The scene itself was white with black straight lines in random directions, and more of it in the perifery than near the center. Add some red movable raised pieces of scene, and that was basically it.
I was not the only one to think about the production “Springtime for Hitler” in “The Producers” by Woody Allen. Except, in the Hitler case they were so over the top that it became comedy. Here it was just travesty of opera.
The other thing that I noticed was how silent the music was. The only other stages I have had the pleasure to experience are the Opera in Stockholm, the Kongelige Teater in Copenhagen, and the Mariinsk Teatr in St Petersburg. As I remember it they all had a much more impressive orchestra sound. In Miami it was sometimes hard to even hear the performance – but maybe it is me who needs hearing aids. Or is there too much acoustic damping?
Opera is a fantastic art form, and the scenery is an important part of it. A cork-gun would be better as a rifle than a wooden chair. That would at least have revealed some level of respect for the art and for the audience.