Unexpectedly my friend and me got front row tickets for a modern version of the Carmen opera. I have a crush on an opera singer/actor now (the same guy who starred in Macbeth), but mostly I am in love with this theatre’s architecture and atmosphere. My friend took those pictures which I will use to remind me that I should come back to Bologna very soon and not only for studying.
THE PLAY: Interpreting classical plays in a new way is always risky, because it means adding a new perspective to a story that was already impressing before your idea came along. You either take the original to a whole new level of awesomeness in a different context, with focus on a differnet aspect or a brave surprising spin that still fits to the concept… or you completely miss the point of the old story because you desperately try to force your view and your idea on to it. (This is what bad film directors do with famous books. They chop up the origninal story until it fits to their image of it.) This version of Carmen directed by Bologna-born Pietro Babina did both: It modernized the story so mercilessly that it became ridiculous: with dancing little devils and annoying, terribly dressed tourists, with a lot of colours, confetti and pathos. But this is also what made the well-known story fresh and lively again. This version is brave and weird, not a half-assed redecoration of what we’ve seen before.
It is not a coincidence that the director of the orchestra, Frédéric Chaslin from Paris, was applauded more than anyone else. I sat right in front of the orchestra and it was amazing. Keep in mind, this admiration is coming from someone who writes concert reviews for every genre but actually prefers Punkrock and Experimental.
The set design was, as the whole opera, bold instead of subtile. Like a pop art version of the original. Personally I liked the set design in Macbeth better, because it didn’t seem to scream: Notice me, I’m so special and hip! But after the break, when atto terzo (act three) started, the set design’s obvious allusion to the refugee crisis was not funny anymore but cynical: A huge „Europe dream“ flight advertisement in the back, people caged behind fences, the cast looking like they are on the run. If this already sounds disturbing to you, wait for the last act. In act four everything is colourful, loud and absurd again. My first thought was: „What the hell?!“ After Carmen is killed by Don Josè, the dead people dance because… who cares, why. The crowd is confused in the end, which I bet must have put a smile on the director’s face.
This review is taken from my personal Bologna Journal. Please note that English is my second language and I may still make some mistakes.
The opera is also scheduled for March 26 an 29 in the Teatro Comunale di Bologna (not to be confused with the Carmen K dance performance in April). The language in this version of the opera is French with Italian translation on screen.