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  • Your Reaction: What did you think of Bizet's Carmen 2018/19?

Your Reaction: What did you think of Bizet's Carmen 2018/19?

Audience reaction to Barrie Kosky's musical-inspired Royal Opera production.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

3 December 2018 at 10.30am | 66 Comments

Press reviews:

Express ★★★★
Londonist ★★★★
Culture Whisper ★★★★
Independent ★★★
Bachtrack ★★★
Times (£) ★★
Financial Times ★★
Broadway World ★★

What did you think of Carmen?
Let us know via the comments below, or by using #ROHcarmen on social media.

Carmen runs until 22 December 2018. Tickets are still available.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

3 December 2018 at 10.30am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Barrie Kosky, Carmen, Production, review, your reaction

This article has 66 comments

  1. James Pearce responded on 5 December 2018 at 4:03am Reply

    So boring. I thought carmen was impossible to ruin but Kosky manages it. Emotionally dead, interminably long, and no relationship between the music and the rest of the production. I felt sorry for the musicians.

    • Sheila Samuel responded on 19 December 2018 at 2:04pm

      Could not agree more. Felt like leaving in the interval

    • Dan responded on 31 January 2019 at 4:36pm

      Agreed. He manages really well indeed.

      I sadly saw it last year and got amazed of this House hiring him Again for these other couple times.

      I do not pay a penny for Kosky and enjoyed other "normal" performances at ENO instead.

      ROH should be ashamed and take care of its reputation

    • Howard Lamb responded on 20 February 2019 at 5:49pm

      I could not agree more with James and other similar reviews, especially those with gorilla-based and staircase-related comments. The whole production was absolutely lacking in passion. I felt sorry also for the cast. Having so much looked forward to seeing Carmen for the first time made it even more disappointing. I have just looked at the new programme and given the plethora of negative views here - plus many I have seen in the press - I wonder how the otherwise wonderful ROH can even countenance another season of this nonsensical interpretation of a great opera!

    • James Gill responded on 22 June 2019 at 7:45pm

      Absolutely right. One of the most perfect operas ruined. I would not pay to see this version again.

  2. John Penney responded on 6 December 2018 at 10:38am Reply

    Great singing but the worst production I have ever seen!
    Why such a great Opera House employs producers and directors such as these I really cannot understand .I wonder if it is because they cannot compete with the standards set in the past

  3. nigel ashton responded on 6 December 2018 at 11:25am Reply

    Meistersinger, Saul, Carmen this has been a glorious year for productions directed by Barry Kovsky. His Carmen is one of the most intelligent, original and theatrically thrilling performances I have ever had the privilege to attend. Thank you ROH for giving us the opportunity to witness such a world class director at the height of his game, please can we have more Barry Kovsky productions if you can persuade him away from Komische Oper, Glyndebourne and Bayreuth.

  4. Hmanser responded on 8 December 2018 at 9:57pm Reply

    Worst production of anything I've ever seen. How on earth did anyone manage to make Carmen boring?!

  5. Andy Clarke responded on 9 December 2018 at 4:47pm Reply

    I have to agree with James and John, this production should not share a stage that has seen such great productions of Carmen such as Francesca Zambello’s in 2015.
    Great orchestra and singers shame about the story telling.

  6. Alvaro responded on 9 December 2018 at 5:27pm Reply

    Production is not attractive at all. Inexistent complicity with the audience, quite plain. The modern concept of it they try to transmit makes it interminably long.

  7. Peter Pauwels responded on 11 December 2018 at 4:08pm Reply

    The worst Carmen ever! It should be full of colour but this was monochrome. And that gorilla: what a farce! What have gorillas got to do with Carmen or Seville? Thank goodness that the Met have got a production coming up soon.

  8. Anthony Marsh responded on 11 December 2018 at 11:00pm Reply

    Loved the opera, music, singing, orchestra
    , hated the production which turned a vibrant colourful dynamic opera into a rather colourless, pedestrian and boring work. Stomping on the steps endlessly is not our taste. Shame.

  9. Amanda Huntingford responded on 12 December 2018 at 12:22am Reply

    Fantastic orchestra and singing. Shocking, hideous production. It lacked energy, vibrancy, acting, intimacy and passion. The stairs made it disjointed and they were impossible to perform apart from the chorus waving their arms around and what the hell were those camp dancers doing prancing around the macho matador!

    The worst production I have seen in 40 years of ROH attendance. Very sad.

    • Jill C responded on 21 December 2018 at 11:53am

      I have to agree. First time I’ve seen Carmen and I was looking forward to seeing a gypsy girl not a gorilla. The stomping up and down steps often drowned out the singing. The manic idiotic dancers distracted from the performance. So disappointed.

  10. Tony Corless responded on 12 December 2018 at 1:01am Reply

    This production seemed to have drained much of the vital energy and joie de vivre. The commentary rather reminded me a budget TV series that needs to be captioned at every location. I'm sure that it is very worthy and terribly clever but that somewhat misses the point of a piece that is primarily entertainment - disappointing.

  11. Anne Bruce responded on 12 December 2018 at 9:04am Reply

    With two of the main parts off sick, terribly dull costumes and totally bland staging it was like the audience was being challenged to still like Carmen in the face if the odds.

  12. Desie responded on 12 December 2018 at 9:49am Reply

    Biggest waste of money I’ve ever spent! I’m sorry but I had to leave before the end. The singing and musicians were excellent, but the production dreadful. Wish someone could recompense me.

  13. Gail Carrodus responded on 12 December 2018 at 10:10am Reply

    Disappointed. Agree with the above. Little emotional engagement. Staging gave me a headache- actors and singers clattering noisily up and down a pointless staircase made me cringe. Monochrome style hackneyed and boring. Gorilla costume straight out of joke shop (bad joke? Anyone get it?) Dancers giving it all (Fosse?) and singing plus orchestration great but rather dislocated from the story. Only the train to the dress had any wow factor to justify the ridiculous staircase. Looks like a vanity project.
    Anyone unfamiliar with Carmen would wonder what was going on and why.

  14. Kate Lindsay responded on 12 December 2018 at 3:31pm Reply

    I was so disappointed by this. The vibrancy of Carmen was totally missing. How can you do Carmen with no emotion! The stand in Carmen had a tough job to do, and I actually felt rather sorry for her - until I remembered the price of the tickets. We had joked in advance that the real Carmen would be somehow indisposed (they often are, and so she was), but surely the understudy should be familiar with the choreography especially in a production where this is a key focus. High points were Michaela (beautiful voice) and Frasquita, and one amazing, characterful dancer. Overall though this is the worst ROH production I've ever seen. I feel almost cheated given how expensive the tickets were.

  15. Kate Arnold responded on 12 December 2018 at 3:47pm Reply

    OMG this was diabolically awful. I was so embarrassed to have dragged a friend up to London to see this farce. It was like The Emperor's New Clothes - how did nobody realise what a travesty this was before it got to the stage? I could just about cope with the lack of staging, the flossing mimes etc as you can always close your eyes and enjoy the music but when they start cutting up the score with someone droning on with nonsense that's when you lose me entirely. So seriously disappointed. If I wanted to go to see something this far out I would go and see something in a warehouse in a back street. There is a basic standard you expect from Covent Garden - this was just cringe-worthy and an insult to the audience and to the composer and to the artists. We all deserve better.

  16. Olav Ostin responded on 12 December 2018 at 8:18pm Reply

    Last night was simply not close to the level one would expect from the ROH. Unacceptable and left at the interval.

  17. Was this Louie Spence and Pineapple Dance studios?
    An audio guide to the ruin of an Opera. Featuring the stairs from the 1977 Morecambe and wise Christmas special and a gorilla. Such a waste of effort for fine performers and musicians. Left at the interval, poorer in more ways than one.

  18. Bring back Francesco Zambello's production please! I think taxpayers and donors should be listened to, in addition to the audience - what a waste of money this was, catering only to a tiny minority hankering for the avant garde who are being subsidised by a disappointed majority.

    Perhaps this production would have been interesting in an alternative venue like Barbican Theatre or the Roundhouse, which has hosted some ROH productions, but woefully inadequate for the large ROH auditorium. A waste of the talents of the singers and musicians (especially when you couldn't hear anything with the clattering of the staircase).

  19. Christina responded on 14 December 2018 at 7:55am Reply

    First time seeing Carmen at the ROH. Please don’t go and see it if your expecting colour or a traditional production. It is quite awful, disappointing and lacks passion. Carmen enters in a gorilla’s costume and this sums up the appalling production that the public have to pay exorbitant prices to watch.

  20. Heather Hayes responded on 14 December 2018 at 11:47pm Reply

    What a disappointment - no passion, no sense of location, no sense of story, may as well all have been on mute - what a waste of a great orchestra, great voices, great score and great building. 2 female performers were weak, 1 male lead suffering from virus but still performed. Introduced a friend to the venue for the first time and she walked away believing that opera is not for general viewing and missed all the magic it can create. Left at half time.

  21. Simon Poley responded on 15 December 2018 at 12:14am Reply

    The music was wonderful. I thought Don Jose sang beautifully bearing in mind he had apparently been suffering with a virus all week.
    Similarly the stand-in Carmen sang very well indeed.
    In fact everything musically was perfect.
    Unfortunately the production was pants. I mean really pants.
    I kept my eyes shut throughout & listened to the music.

  22. Mrs. J Huston responded on 15 December 2018 at 7:36am Reply

    Desperately disappointing evening at huge costs! - it is the only time I have ever wanted to not return at Interval. This production had NOTHING to do with the vivacious Carmen of old - singing was fine, but dancing, albeit excellent, had nothing whatsoever to do with the vibrant Spanish Gypsy dancing. Where was the sensuality of Carmen and the excitement of the crowds. Running up and down stairs totally boring --- NO THANK YOU please return to Zambello's production, full of life, gay raucous, colourful, sensual ....FUN, TRAGIC, as the music dictates.

  23. M Kunnedy responded on 15 December 2018 at 8:32am Reply

    Disappointing. The conducting lacked sparkle making the music sound like a film score. Monochromatic drudgery sung by understudies. Last scene. Devoid of emotion. Fiasco.

  24. John Pike responded on 15 December 2018 at 8:35am Reply

    Last nights Carmen. 14/13 Patronising we know the story we do not require the dullist female french voice narration which was so tedious. It iwas the first time in my normally gentile life that I felt like bringing back an Opera tradition of heckling and shouting out “get on with it” but did not want upset the singers. I was quite looking forward to the vertical scenery bisually but this end up being just a stubborn gimmick for the cast to clumsily negotiate. Carmen like the other parts was sung well but she had such little passion that I was convinced that at the end Don Jose had decided to stay at home with Michaela. Please drop the jazz hands dancing. Did the cast take a wrong turn when they went over the mountains and end up in Gdansk nothing wrong with Gdansk but it doesn’t have the heat and fire of Seville and neither did this production. So uninspiring, unentertaining Colourless and lacking in passion of any sort.,Dull dull dull would have returned it for a refund if possible maybe ROH should think about this or at least someone should have said No Barrie.

  25. David Crossman responded on 15 December 2018 at 9:51am Reply

    BRAVA to Aigul ALMETSHINA for a fine performance given the natural of a one off stand in appearance as Carmen.

    I saw this production last year and it produced the same controversy then as it has this year. However, this time around it is not it’s first outing so for people to come totally unprepared for something different I find a bit difficult to understand. There is plenty of info. out there about previous performances for people to realise what they are going to get. Some of this is like eating Marmite on your toast knowing that you absolutely hate it !

    I came back to see this production a second time as I really liked it last year. It is different I grant you that, but I have also seen a traditional production of Carmen three times. Maybe that helps in my appreciation of this production. I personally think that both have their merits and also weaknesses.

    This is a good production, different in that it focuses more on the actual story and music of Carmen with less distraction. It has some extra bits from the original score and the narrative is actually interesting to listen to. It is only 10 minutes longer than a traditional production.

    The music is just the same and it is nice to see a female conductor. BRAVA to Keri-Lynn Wilson.

    I agree this production may not be to everybody’s taste, but applaud the Royal Opera directors for bringing something new and fresh (if controversial) to the stage.

    My advice to people is go along and enjoy this performance for what it is. Love it or hate it, celebrate the professionalism of all the Royal Opera House staff who do such a great job for every production.

    As a final thought I have seen the last four productions of Tosca and will not rush to see it again in it’s current format. I love the music etc, but a new take on the production would be nice to see. Bring on the Big Eye and Daniel Craig !!

  26. Graham Copland responded on 15 December 2018 at 10:54am Reply

    Great singing from both principals and chorus, but I was disappointed by the production. The storytelling was poor, and it was difficult to engage with any of the characters. The staging was two dimensional, and the set looked like an afterthought. I cannot fault the singing or the dancing, but I thought the latter was utterly irrelevant. Probably the worst production I’ve seen at the ROH.

  27. Jane & Eryl Morris responded on 15 December 2018 at 11:07am Reply

    Contrary to most reviews we thoroughly
    enjoyed last night's production of Carmen. It zipped along with energy and theatrical amusement. Great performances, and orchestra led brilliantly by Keri-Lynn Wilson.
    It surprised us to find we preferred it to the old version.

  28. David Harvey responded on 15 December 2018 at 12:46pm Reply

    The singers and orchestra were superb.
    However, I did not like the production or most of the dancing which distracted from the opera itself- the exception was in the prelude to Act 4 where the dancing was perfect and helped offset the very bare stage!
    The voice- over commentary on the opera was enjoyable.

  29. Howard responded on 15 December 2018 at 1:10pm Reply

    Had been so looking forward to this but exceptionally disappointed. The stairs removed all feeling of a coherent story and Carmen as a gorilla really sums it up. Or down. Grrrrr.

  30. Jonathan Rackowe responded on 15 December 2018 at 6:05pm Reply

    Agree with the other comments here; felt completely short-changed by this production:
    One boring set of steps was the only set through the whole opera. The voiceover described the location and setting as it should have been portrayed on stage, yet all we had was a set of steps - it made me think we might as well have been at a production for radio!!
    Sadly, there was more light on those steps than the performers a lot of the time. What was the lighting designer thinking? - main character performers were singing in the dark on several occasions! And at one point the houselights came on during the performance for no apparent reason.
    The director clearly sat in the stalls when blocking performer positions and had no thought for the audience in the amphitheatre who couldn't see performers when they were at the top of the steps - it would have been simple enough for them to sing 2 or 3 steps lower down, where they could be seen. There was similarly poor staging when Carmen was killed at the very side of the empty stage and people on the left of the auditorium were leaning over each other to try and see what was happening.
    But most of all, the colour and joy of former productions of Carmen was replaced by black dresses for the gypsy dancers (despite the voiceover describing them as red and orange!) and mostly monochrome lighting. The toreadors were the colourful exception to this minimalist rule, which is why they appear in so many of the publicity articles for the production!
    Even the 'French' voiceover was at many times flat and monotonous rather than vibrant and sexy.
    Thank god the same minimalist approach was not applied to the music, which was brilliantly performed, as ever, by the ROH orchestra.
    I have seen many, many productions at the ROH and they have in the main been fantastic, with brilliant sets, lighting and costumes; it is such a shame that this one production does not live up to that reputation.

  31. Eve Hatton responded on 16 December 2018 at 9:02pm Reply

    One of the worst opera productions we have seen, the colour and passion were take of this drab black and white set and costumes . Gorilla outfit why, I do t mind dancers but why so prominent ? Also the production concentrated on one side of the stage so those of use who were not meant to have restricted views could not see anything. You should be considering all the audience.

  32. Alex E responded on 17 December 2018 at 9:24am Reply

    Barrie Kosky may be a talented director with successful opera productions and rewards to his name, but all awards in the world wouldn’t save you from producing a flop – and this production of “Carmen” is a total FLOP. I saw it back in March this year and hated it; this time (11 December) I hated it even more.

    Unlike some of my fellow reviewers, I wouldn’t necessarily object to a monochromatic staging with hardly anything Spanish in it. I can live with people dancing and miming alongside singers. I can even accept the gorilla costume – likely a homage to the classic “Blonde Venus” movie. But what I refuse to accept is this:
    - an operatic masterpiece full of lush, emotionally charged music being shoehorned (and thus mercilessly destroyed) into something “cheap and cheerful”, rather resembling Brecht’s “Threepenny Opera” – which “Carmen” stubbornly refuses to be turned into.
    - an idea of a “musical-inspired” production for the much-loved opera classic. Why doesn’t the ROH go one step further and get the singers to use microphones, which is what is typically done in musicals? Better still – why not use pre-recorded soundtrack? This will be a perfect fit with this production.
    - the set that, when walked upon, rumbles so loudly that it drowns the singing; clever attempts of the members of the ROH chorus to avoid the evil staircase whenever possible were highly commendable.
    - incessant dancing that has nothing whatsoever in common with either the music or the libretto; the Smugglers March – and alongside it, two mimes impersonating a brace of albatrosses? Why?!
    - misanscenes and overall staging, that, instead of helping the singers get their music across, make their job visibly difficult. Escamillo on horseback - as seen in previous ROH production - might be a bit of an overkill, but it works; same Escamillo lifted in the air and thus dragged around the stage, legs dangling and body being twisted, while trying to sing his famous aria - an utter nuisance. Don Jose always being made to lurk in the shadows... Michaela having to roll down the horrid steps... the list goes on and on and on.

    Despite all of the above, there was some unquestionably fine singing: Alexander Vinogradov as Escamillo was simply superb, Eleonora Buratto made a very decent Micaëla, and Brian Jagde’s effort to battle through his illness was worthy, although not always convincing. Tanja Baumgartner’s Carmen was a disappointment, I am afraid – but then again, I understand that she was brought in with very short notice. The ROH orchestra, conducted by Keri-Lynn Wilson, was quite decent, but, to my taste, a bit lethargic at times.

    To sum it all up - there must be something seriously wrong with the decision making within the ROH. Why did they choose to reinstate this disgraceful production?! To rephrase a famous Oscar Wilde quote – “to have one lousy production run may be regarded as a misfortune; to have two looks like carelessness.” I don’t think one can afford to be careless where the reputation of the ROH is concerned; it has been built over many years but losing it will take no time at all. Before they know it – world-class singers would turn their backs, and we, the paying public, as well as the ROH sponsors, would choose to spend money elsewhere. Threepenny Opera at the National Theatre anyone?

  33. Daniel responded on 19 December 2018 at 4:19pm Reply

    Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful.
    We left at the interval as it was too painful to watch such a headline opera die of embarrassment.(19th Dec matinee)
    If a lead singer is ill, why has ROH not got a suitable understudy?
    Watching him mime was a joke, making Don Jose lool like a creepy uncle molesting Carmen's mum which exacerbated the lifeless, joyless, emotionally cold production.
    Carmen was as sexually alluring as magnolia wallpaper and the dancers were nothing but distracting.
    The singing was drowned under the clatter of footsteps up and down the pointless steps.
    What on earth is happening at the ROH?
    Which committee of fools signed off the gorilla costume?
    Shame on all of you! Shame indeed!

  34. Amanda responded on 19 December 2018 at 4:21pm Reply

    Can the orchestra play the overture any faster?
    That way we all get to go home earlier.

  35. Anna responded on 19 December 2018 at 5:46pm Reply

    Matinee 19December
    Dull female narrator, not colourful, not vibrant, ridiculous gorilla suit, boring scenery. So Carmen wears a shirt, tie and trousers...what is wrong with a Spanish costume and seductive choreography for her? Restricted viewing from Upper Circle on those steps. This production is not up to ROH standard. Left at the interval.

  36. Debra Sullivan responded on 19 December 2018 at 8:41pm Reply

    To say I was disappointed is an understatement, I book a performance every year for my father, last year Madam Butterfly was fantastic and he enjoyed it immensely, for the cost of the tickets that was an utter disgrace, what were they thinking of is anyone’s guess, if this is what’s to come in the future I will certainly not be booking more tickets

  37. Peter Luder responded on 19 December 2018 at 8:49pm Reply

    I think the director has seen too many episodes of Take Me Out - the stairs, the pointless dancing, a gorilla outfit ... and like others above, I was appalled at there being no understudy for Don Jose at the ROH, even though the stand in sang very well (matinee). I personally liked the narration, as an idea, but mostly as it did fill in the lack of character in terms of set or staging, but I am interested that I am not alone, by any means in feeling this production just did not suit the venue: It should have been in a derelict warehouse, cold and wet, ( not sultry Seville). Mostly though, it was unsuited to the shap of the ROH auditorium. With the staircase taking up most of the stage, and the drama constantly in the right hand corner, most of the time, I saw only an empty staircase, or the chorus watching the action, making pointless gestures. I only wish I'd been listening on the car radio on the motorway: it would have been far more compelling.

  38. Sheila Samuel responded on 19 December 2018 at 9:23pm Reply

    I am pleased that someone has taken the time to write such a detailed criticism of this production. A very special occasion for us was an expensive mistake for which I cannot forgive the ROH. Perhaps they are pleased that so many have expressed displeasure at this abysmal performance but I sincerely hope that there will not be a repeat. We have seen several operas performed in a modern setting and have enjoyed them but this was an insult.

  39. Judith responded on 20 December 2018 at 10:54am Reply

    Saw it yesterday and was disappointed, it lacked any emotional intensity and the production and staging were bizarre. A disservice to a great opera. A waste of time and money.

  40. Peter in Northfield responded on 20 December 2018 at 4:29pm Reply

    Saw this production yesterday [19 Dec]. I have no education in opera but love it and I'm a regular at the ROH and others. I have never been so disappointed in any opera production anywhere. Despite reading online elsewhere and the comments here I still don't 'get' the production. The singers and orchestra were good and Michaela was wonderful but it was a miserable performance. And from where I was sitting this was the first time I saw no standing ovation here. All the comments I heard leaving were negative - and please someone [asked here before I know] WHY THE GORILLA?

    • Alex E responded on 20 December 2018 at 7:34pm

      In reply to Peter in Northfield
      Re.gorilla costume :
      A simple answer is that this is a homage to the 1932 movie called "Blonde Venus", in which Marlene Dietrich, who plays a German Cabaret singer, appears on stage dressed as an ape and then slowly emerges as her glamorous self from within. This particular clip from the movie is easy enough to find online.
      The next question is: what does it have to do with a) Bizet's "Carmen", b) the ROH, c) c) Barrie Kosky, d) us - gullible opera lovers who trust the ROH enough to pay them well over the "Three Penny Opera" prices so that we can enjoy Bizet's "Carmen". Now, that IS the question worth asking ROH people like Oliver Mears (Director of Opera) and Alex Beard (Chief Executive). I already twitted this question to Alex Beard, but very much doubt that a reply is forthcoming

  41. Peter Yates responded on 21 December 2018 at 9:46am Reply

    Loved it - while my friend (who sang opera) didn't like it.
    Carmen is an old friend in new clothes. Not the clothes I expected - but I won't forget this in a hurry - maybe because of the contrast to the 5 or 6 previous meetings.
    As a ballet fan I loved the dancing - and why not more often. Two brilliant companies in the same building and hardly ever any crossover.
    Al in all I LOVED IT!!!

  42. Guy Eskell responded on 21 December 2018 at 10:22pm Reply

    So disappointed with yesterday’s production.The costumes,set,dancing in my view had little to relationship with the original Opera.
    Find difficult understand why there was no understudy for Don Jose.
    I am afraid this production was not fit for purpose.This was sadly reflected in the very muted applause at the end.

  43. Lynda Styles responded on 22 December 2018 at 11:33am Reply

    I was bored too. No visual excitement. In my opinion the worst ROH production I have ever been to and as for jumping up at the end when she had been stabbed ! Speechless.

  44. Debra Ralph responded on 22 December 2018 at 11:16pm Reply

    Just awful

  45. Jean-Marc Evans responded on 23 December 2018 at 12:08am Reply

    I have to agree with the majority of comments. This production was just insane. I’d been looking forward to it and since I’ve just started introducing my teenage daughter to opera I thought Carmen would be the ideal follow up to Bohème which she enjoyed. Thankfully Bizet’s music carried the day, what was left if it that is. But how could such a mad production have got beyond the drawing board is beyond me. A gorilla suit! Are you kidding? Then Carmen looks as if she’s going to ask you what sort of coffee you want. Oh dear.

  46. Spartacus responded on 23 December 2018 at 7:23am Reply

    I thought the production was fantastic, despite an under-powered Carmen and a Don Jose with a virus! The fusion of dance and opera was extremely creative and some of the visual images were stunning. Well done for having the courage to put on a more contemporary production .... we all pay our taxes to support the ROH and this production had an appeal beyond the very small number of opera purists. Bravo!

  47. Drew Minter responded on 23 December 2018 at 10:30am Reply

    This was the most disappointing performance of an opera I have seen in a very long time. From the standpoint of Barrie Kosky's production alone, there was a great deal of nonsensical stage business which neither I nor my three veteran operagoing friends could make heads or tails of. The goofy, campy "dancing" (really it was stylized disco voguing) upset many moments: especially the quintet (sung rather well by the soloists, so the more disturbing as a staging). Very sad. Some of the tempi coming from Maestra Wilson were outrageously off the mark (poor Micaela trying to sing "Je dis" as a dirge; to say nothing of Carmen's "dancing" tra la las for Don José -- we saw Baumgartner, and she neither danced nor played the castenets -- even with her hands she could not clap the correct beats). The overture was so fast as to have no infllection. Not only that, but the ensemble between orchestra and chorus was terrible lat night. There were many out of sync moments. The diction was almost universally poor -- but the worst was from Vinogradov. With his very nasal placement he has managed to create a technique with some great high notes, but who wants to hear this kind of vocally self-indulgent singing, utterly without any sense of the language? José probably did the best vocally (Jagde), but even his diction at the end was sloppy; he was announced as sick, though, so you have to give him the benefit of the doubt. Diction at the Royal Opera used to be at such a high level when I was in London years ago. What has happened? Is there a lack of coaching now? In sum, I and my friends were shocked. How is it that the Covent Garden management did not step in? The universally black costumes (until the torreadors in act 4) and the tedious set of 16 stairs, gallumphed up and down without obvious sense much of the time and often obscuring some of the singing, did not reflect the immense orchestral color and vivid melodies of Bizet's score. Personally, I did not find any of the music they put back in (which Bizet removed, with good reason it seems) for this production at all rewarding or enlightening to the opera. I left the theatre in a rage, and had I not paid 200 dollars for my ticket, I would certainly have left at intermission. Honestly, I saw a production with more integrity and story line in a church basement on New York's east side a couple seasons back. Scandalous.

  48. Alistair Park responded on 23 December 2018 at 10:48am Reply

    A very disappointing production. Too clever for its own good.

    Very stylish and beautiful looking in places, and the dancing was excellent! However this all belongs to a different show and was completely out of place in Carmen.

    The set simply doesn’t work. There is too much commotion going on in the background and the chorus moving around on the ‘stairs’ makes a lot of noise.

    All this detracts from the wonderful orchestra and the singing, all of which was good, but the production fails to compensate with drama. 4/10

  49. Norman Hills responded on 23 December 2018 at 6:55pm Reply

    A production best appreciated with your eyes closed.
    Difficult to ruin this opera, but this production succeeded.
    Why has the ROH stooped to this level?Utter rubbish.

  50. David Knight responded on 23 December 2018 at 11:24pm Reply

    So absolutely disappointed. Booked this for my wife Jayne's 60th birthday present on 22/12/18. Was expecting a fantastic experience but oh no! Utter rubbish. Carmen had as much sensuality and sexuality as a plank of wood. As in previous comments the production was devoid of colour and the set and staging totally unimaginative. What on earth has a gorilla and a woman dressed more like a man have anything to do with a flirtatious gypsy girl. £400 completely wasted. I want a refund.

    • Kate Arnold responded on 24 December 2018 at 11:50pm

      I have to say I agree with you. I am still here feeling totally cheated. It's so hard to get tickets. You book a long time in advance and count the days down until you get to go and then they do that. For me it wasn't a special event but to ruin your wife's birthday is really rubbing salt into a wound. I sincerely hope they reimburse you and it would be a lovely gesture if they arranged for you to see it again with a proper production

  51. Jean Marray responded on 23 December 2018 at 11:42pm Reply

    I found it flippant and pointless. Quite boring in fact. However, I thought the roles of Don Jose and Micaela were well delivered.

  52. Keiran O'Connor responded on 24 December 2018 at 12:38pm Reply

    I always enjoy the ambience of ROH and the meal in the amphitheatre. I have attended at least once a year sometimes twice and in all the years that i have attended this was the worst production of Carmen I have seen. I have to agree with the majority of comments the singing was outstanding but the spectacle of a gorilla climbing stairs was not to my taste. Never mind will be back next year but will chose my opera performance better.

  53. DAVID KNIGHT responded on 28 December 2018 at 10:46pm Reply

    I contacted ROH and received a reply from Oliver Mears. No refund offered and a total whitewash of my comments. I could use a lot more offensive language but will not. So disappointed, I hope something is learned from this feedback on this site.

  54. The best Carmen I have ever seen!
    Did not expect anything that fresh and creative from the old good boring ROH. 19th century glorious singing contrasted, or rather complemented by very modern dance. Music not dying off with singers when they stop singing, but being acted to its last drop by dancers. It was singing and dancing the music. Classical singing and modern dancing in absolute unison, adding more colour and expression to their respective performances. A really great combination!
    The singing was a bit bland though, except for the part of Micaela. It's a pity to have mediocre singers in such outstanding parts of the best classics.
    Despite a bit weaker singing, we still enjoyed the opera immensely. More of such productions and the good old boring ROH may start to become a world class in itself!

  55. Michal Weinreb responded on 23 June 2019 at 6:07am Reply

    Many thanks for your vision of Carmen in 2019. Production like this will open discussion
    it means people are actively involved in the story. Please congratulation to Barrie Kosky for fresh production full of live and great ideas that stimulate in both ways, positive and negative, so nobody is leaving without opinion.

  56. Ian responded on 24 June 2019 at 11:53am Reply

    Beautiful music and fantastic singing. However, if you don't like clown faces, jazz hands or guerrillas prepare for the worst. I fear for the chorus members with that massive staircase. The programme promised a version stripped of decades of old cliches but it seems ladened with a load of new ones. I still loved being there but not the production, sorry.

  57. Leon Herbert responded on 24 June 2019 at 9:30pm Reply

    Surprised my fiancé by taking her to he first opera and all I can say is that we are on our way home already and left half time!!

    It was the worst production I have ever seen, a classic destroyed and how the gorilla suit was passed is beyond me!! The scenery was beyond dull, steps so noisy they drowned out the singing, costumes were super dull, no emotion and the voice over was like having Alexa with you for a night. It totally killed the vibe, although there wasn’t one to kill.

    One would think you could drown out this horrendous production with the singing (which was lovely) but due tot eh temperature in there it was terribly uncomfortable.

    What a shame such a prestigious opera house let this production role as its terrible and ruined my fiancé’s first opera experience. We aren’t happy at all and want a refund as you can’t justify the tickets prices you do for such a shit show.

    Met several people on the way out who were also leaving due to how bad it was!! Researching it now how many bad reviews all mentioning the same points will it take for the ROH to stop this show ?????

  58. Dr Chris Cowgill responded on 27 June 2019 at 10:57am Reply

    I can only describe the production of Carmen at the ROH as drab! Fabulous music, fantastic singing, dreadful production. The staircase was an artistic mistake, often muffling the sound of the singing as the chorus clomped up and down the stairs.
    I never expected anybody to make Carmen boring, but Barrie Kosky singularly succeeded. The colour, joy and vivacity of this most beautiful opera were leeched away by unnecessary nonsense.
    Throw this production away, and start again!

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