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

Here's what the audience had to say about Barrie Kosky's new Royal Opera's production of Bizet's classic.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

7 February 2018 at 12.24pm | 159 Comments

Press reviews:
Times ★★★★
Londonist ★★★★
The Stage ★★★
Telegraph ★★★
Guardian ★★★
Independent ★★★
Arts Desk ★★★
Financial Times ★★
What's On Stage 

What did you think of Carmen?
Share your thoughts via the comments below.

Carmen runs until 16 March 2018. Tickets are still available.

The production will be relayed live to cinemas around the world on 6 March 2018. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list.

The production is supported by

And is staged with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Yvonne and Bjarne Rieber, Alan Howard, Trifon and Despina Natsis, The ROH Young Philanthropists, and the Friends of Covent Garden.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

7 February 2018 at 12.24pm

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

This article has 159 comments

  1. Vivienne Crossland responded on 7 February 2018 at 1:00pm Reply

    Hated all of it, couldn't wait for the interval which seemed an eternity to come, in order that I could walk out. Others didn't wait for the interval, but I am polite. I got home comfortably prior to the scheduled end of the performance. He hee :)

    • Philip Eaton responded on 18 March 2018 at 5:57pm

      I agree. We walked out in the interval too. Worst production at the ROH I have ever seen. Really annoyed and so upset. For the first time in my life I felt like standing up and booing.
      What a complete waste of (an awful lot of) money.

  2. David Croser responded on 7 February 2018 at 1:44pm Reply

    Hi Vivienne - I felt exactly like you at the interval but stayed and had a glass of wine in the interval instead. To judge by the crowded bar I was not alone. The second half was little better - although the chorus did remove their Halloween make up for their curtain call. Not a total waste of time then.

  3. Geoff responded on 7 February 2018 at 1:50pm Reply

    Thanks Vivienne, yes, this production is annoying and in an uninformative way.

    As this Carmen might herself say, what's the point (but you would have to have been trapped till the end to see why)?

  4. Clare responded on 7 February 2018 at 2:05pm Reply

    Fine orchestral playing but a conductor of Hrusa's quality deserved a better production than this for his house debut

    All those who have remarked on the "intelligent" and "witty" production must have been attending a performance in a parallel universe from the one at which I was present. I found the whole performance a tedious experience which was not alleviated by the quality of the singers who ranged from poor to only just adequate.I am not convinced that the restoration of all this previously unheard music does Bizet's reputation as an opera composer any favours. It has the strange effect of making Carmen feel more of a period piece than the traditional performing edition does. Tchaikovsky is reputed to have said that Carmen was the perfect opera. I am not sure that he would have had that opinion if he had seen and heard this version of it.

  5. Miriam responded on 8 February 2018 at 12:11pm Reply

    I was at the dress rehearsal last Saturday and hated the production, especially the irritating female narrator. I missed the dialogues and the action that should take place during them. This was the first time I have ever been bored during a performance of Carmen. I don't think the restoration of the discarded music was an improvement either.

    The dancing was good but that is not the most important thing in an opera, if I want dancing I go to the ballet.

    I had thought that after seeing the rehearsal I might go to the cinema screening if I liked it, but I shall definitely not be doing so and if the production is revived in future I shall not go to a performance, no matter who is in the cast.

  6. Elaine Beckett responded on 8 February 2018 at 3:40pm Reply

    I was also at the dress rehearsal. I have never seen Carmen before. Perhaps this helped? The musicianship is superb from all involved – design and choreography fantastic. Looking forward to the cinema screening on march 6th. Goryachova is unforgettable in this role. Loved every minute.

  7. John M. responded on 8 February 2018 at 4:11pm Reply

    What a dreary evening! I thought that interval was never going to come. The inclusion of the extra music just made it clear why it is usually left out. I did not find the singing to be anything more than adequate; I did not hear the wonderful voices some comments have mentioned. One always hopes that seeing an opera will give an extra insight, alerting one to something one had previously missed. Not on this occasion. The narrator’s intrusions sapped the action of any tension, with performers having to wait for her to finish. One was faced with a non-stop onslaught of movement, almost as if the director were afraid to let the music tell its own story. Hardly one single moment of stillness. The set was poor, serving no interpretive purpose as far as I could see - coupe-moi, brûle-moi - and too much of the action did little service to the opera. Having run around the mountains in stilettos, it was hardly surprising that Carmen turned up unsuitably dressed for the bull fight. But as Carmen’s own shrug at the end said, “So what?” Indeed. Quite a bit of booing at the end with a few cries of “Rubbish” in the stalls circle. Is this Carmen going to join the already fairly lengthy list of failures in recent years? Was there no one high up at the ROH who could have intervened, have said maybe that this really isn’t very good.

  8. Borech responded on 8 February 2018 at 6:26pm Reply

    It is all a question of taste, but I wonder if I saw the same production as some of those commentating above. The production was unquestionably innovative and not all the ideas worked well. I missed the Spanish context, only really available from some of the costumes.There was a lack of chemistry between Carmen and Don Jose.. However, there was some wonderfully energetic ensembles, with dancers adding to the colour and gaeity portrayed.
    I've seen plenty of convential Carmens, including the ROH's previous production. I've also seen some terrible turkeys at Covent Garden, recently, William Tell, Lucia and Onegin (the Opera) to name but three. It's good to see something quite different and well-thought out., for a change.
    I wonder whether the obvious difference between the Twitter responses ( approving and enthusiastic) and those in this thread, are age- related?
    ( Before anyone yells back, I am 66 and have attended opera for more than 50 years.)

  9. Elaine Beckett responded on 8 February 2018 at 10:14pm Reply

    So many operas are impossible to follow for those of us who hardly ever get to see them. I found the voice of the narrator engaging; dare I say it – helpful. Loved combo of dance, movement, operatic singing: refreshingly unexpected. The twist at the end was fun.

  10. Claudio responded on 8 February 2018 at 10:26pm Reply

    I didn't think t was as good - or as bad - as some comments suggest. I'm not sure whether a newcomer would have followed the story easily. The voiceover didn't work for me - but a better version might work well. (Recitative or spoken dialogue both seem hard work in 'Carmen'.)

    Goryachova has the basis of a really fine Carmen for me, but this production didn't offer her support. Meli worked for me - indeed, the production seemed to be based more around Jose than Carmen.

    Mkhitaryan sang well - but rather like Carmen, the character was poorly delineated. Smoriginas didn't have the swagger for me, but did have a cleaner insight into the character.

    The dancers worked for me (and this is opera!)

    As for the stairs - which reminded me of the Minghella 'Madama Butterfly' - they provided a lot of unnecessary noise that distracted from the music (and added extra tension about whether anybody would actually fall down them). Some good visual images but, sadly, at the expense of the music. The last scene - with the amazing train - was stunning. It was well-performed and looked wonderful, but it did come late in the day.

    All in all, I actually quite enjoyed it. When it worked well (Chanson Boheme), it was great; when it didn't (Habanera), it was a great disappointment. All in all, I'd say it needed not to try so hard.

  11. Stephen Jay-Taylor responded on 9 February 2018 at 1:54am Reply

    "Was there no one high up at the ROH who could have intervened"

    If only there was. Instead, Mariame Clement's projected production was scrapped, and this modish garbage brought in cheap and ready-made from Frankfurt, where it should have stayed.

  12. Susan Rogers responded on 9 February 2018 at 7:22am Reply

    Well, I loved this Carmen. I’ve found previous productions’ attempts to show it literally rather silly (all those bandito costumes and cave sets). So, yes, the narration is a little distracting, but it’s a pretty simple, familiar story of a girl, who has nothing but her beauty and sexual power and gets killed for using it. Thank you M. Kosky for energising the staging. And thank you, Kristin Mkhitaryan for glorious singing. And the ROH chorus, fabulous. And the dancers, mesmerising. And the costumes, innovative and fun.

  13. Lindy Weinreb responded on 10 February 2018 at 12:45am Reply

    I was at the dress rehearsal and loved every minute. It was exciting, innovative and energising. The dance sequences added delightful colour to the experience as with Barrie Kosky's 'The Nose' - thank you.

  14. John Yap responded on 10 February 2018 at 12:13pm Reply

    I am looking forward to seeing CARMEN next week. I loved all of Kosky’s Productions that I have seen in Berlin, Glyndebourne and here, ROH and it looks and sounds like it is going to be one that I will love. I have seen lots of traditional productions of CARMEN around the World and in recent years I got increasingly bored...even to the extend of questioning whether CARNEN is really that good an this Kosky’s production might well restore my appreciation and admiration of CARMEN. Hope so.

  15. Karen McCarthy responded on 10 February 2018 at 9:29pm Reply

    I am at this very moment on the train home after leaving in the interval. Some bits were ok but, I couldn't wait to leave.

  16. Zlatko Risteski responded on 11 February 2018 at 12:18am Reply

    The worst production ever. What a disrespect to Bizet. I took my son to his first opera and can you imagine what a scar he got this evening. Seville - was not there, have anyone seen the steps that big in Seville, gypsies dressed in office clothes, matador with pink socks without anything macho to show, practically whispering and three hours of inarticulate movements by everyone on the scene.
    Looking forward to take my son to see the REAL CARMEN in some local venue.
    Very embarrassing for ROH. I feel cheated.

    • Pedro González responded on 7 March 2018 at 12:32am

      I couldn't agree more with you
      I fell ofended by many features of the performance that in some moments ridicules the national spanish feast.

  17. Alda responded on 11 February 2018 at 9:23am Reply

    How disappointed I was with the Musical-cabaret-circus we were presented last night, Sat 10 Feb, at the ROH! I didn’t like the stage set nor the innovative musical arrangement, not to mention the appearance of an out of context Gorilla! Goryachova and Mkhitaryan can sing but I was so distracted by the razzmatazz around them that couldn’t concentrate in their voices. Dancers were very good but I’d rather see them in a dedicated Dance production. I was indeed impressed by the versatile ROH chorus that saved the day.
    I walked out in the interval. On my way home, I was glad to catch on BBC3 part of L’Elisir d’amore with wonderful Pretty Yende and Matthew Polenzani transmitted from NY. Please bring them to London!

  18. Roger responded on 11 February 2018 at 10:47am Reply

    Interesting, that so many people say they went home, yet it was a full auditorium and almost no empty seats at all last night...
    I am surprised about the strong negative reaction, but it shows that the performance makes an effect.

    I had a lot of fun last night and it was a great performance, with a strong positive reaction from the audience (Feb 10 night). The music was fantastic, never saw both versions of the habanero next to each other.
    There was a lot of activity on the stage which was really well thought out, and definitely shows the talent of both the director and the choreographer, I did feel at times disconnecting from the performance though, when I felt the "activity" didn't serve any purpose.

    I felt slightly disappointed mainly because of the missed opportunity. I felt there was so much more in this production if the director had been a bit more daring.

    In the meanwhile, I am sure this production will be extremely popular, except perhaps with the most traditionalist audience. But again, the opera was always an extremely progressive genre, so any performance is doing something right if it creates a strong reaction and rattles the world a little...

    • amac responded on 12 February 2018 at 11:24am

      Well 10 people walked out of the stalls in front of me during the first half !

      I was standing in the stalls circle and at least 50% of standers (your actual opera fans !) did not return for the second half. The section I was in holds 12 and there were only 4 for the second half !

      I was a bit late getting back for the second half from the Clore - when crossing the central foyer one of the stewards asked "if" I was going back in - I would need to hurry as it was about to start !

  19. Anthony Ashworth responded on 11 February 2018 at 11:04am Reply

    Towards the end I was getting a little bored of the stairs and I could not understand the concept of the enormous train Carmen wore in act 4, it just seemed pointless. Singing wise Anett Fritsch was the star and the orchestra sound last night was exceptional. Production wise why does the ROH have to keep buying in the way out productions from Europe? don't we have any home grown talent? Whom I am sure would have welcomed the chance to stage a new production!

    • Gail Hirano responded on 14 February 2018 at 7:42pm

      I thought the train (an enormous triangle) represented the love triangle between Carmen, Don Jose and Esccamillo.

  20. klaus responded on 11 February 2018 at 11:22am Reply

    I swore I would never go again to Carmen as I cant stand it but this show has bowled me over - wonderful production , set , lighting , singing, conducting and orchestra - dont believe what the critics have said who have tried to put it down- dont miss it!!

    • Elaine Beckett responded on 14 February 2018 at 7:29pm

      Yes yes yes lets balance the books here - of course it was marvellous (and I only saw the dress rehearsal) incredible work from everyone involved - so the black train was pointless - so what? hours of brilliant singing dancing costumes choreography orchestra, dream of going again - maybe i'll get down there now and wait for someone to walk out and give me their ticket.

  21. John Lezemore responded on 11 February 2018 at 11:47am Reply

    I have never booed at ROH before. I felt sad to do it but had to . There was nothing of merit in this Carmen. I kept thinking of the lavish production that went before and the saying if it ain’t broke , don’t fix it. This was a violation! I feel sorry for the cast who had worked hard and angry with production and directors who have,frankly, abused their performers by placing them in this grim austerity .

  22. a mac responded on 11 February 2018 at 2:18pm Reply

    Well to answer the question not a lot!

    Mainly due to the fact that it was not a production of the opera Carmen but a song and dance show set to the music of Carmen. On its own terms – I guess that it was pretty well done although not particularly well sung apart from the lead role.

    Someone sitting behind me in the interval was explaining all the dance references (Fosse, Robbins etc) - most of which were lost on me and I dare say on 95% of the audience who in the most part had come to see an opera.

    Seems to me that this is just another repetition of error of the Robert Wilson Aida bought in from Brussels a few years ago.

    As a result they landed themselves with an un-revivable dud - judging by the no-shows and walkouts from the stalls any future revival would undoubtedly end up in being heavily discounted.

    I have seen a couple of operas directed by Barrie Kosky and thought them brilliant productions however in the end I just spent most of the evening thinking all this would be better directed at another opera.

  23. Liane Bierau responded on 11 February 2018 at 4:06pm Reply

    What happened to my comments? After I wrote them a few days ago, I saw them on the site and when I wanted to look at them again today, they had gone. They were not too flattering but I cannot imagine that this should have been the reason they were taken out.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 12 February 2018 at 9:50am

      Hi Liane,

      It appears that no comments by you have come through relating to this article (though thank you for your feedback on Tosca recently!)

      This may be an error - but please do resubmit and we'll be happy to publish them

      Best wishes


  24. Nick Peters responded on 11 February 2018 at 5:38pm Reply

    Klaus I could not agree with you more. I found it totally refreshing to hear and see such an innovative interpretation of Carmen. I have sat through more than my fair share of traditional productions of Carmen and I have grown tired of the stale and very cliched approaches adopted by most companies to this opera. This production had a very clear and innovative point of view that the production team and the performers clearly understood, fully embraced and delivered with real commitment. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I was engaged throughout. I would happily sit through this production again.

    • Tzctroh responded on 7 March 2018 at 10:09am

      I understand the urge of sometimes try to revive something that may appear stale, but at every tingle set piece of this fiasco I was asking myself what is actually the point of that?

      It may have worked wonders in the head of the director (which later on I read actually is quite a successful one, but as always we rarely get to know the names of the proficient ones and the ones we will remember are the ones up for a scandal) but it didn't make any sense to me (and it seems to most people that know the Opera).

      I found the production actually contemptuous of Opera as an art, specially the first half, in many of the main dramatic parts we had dancer or mimes grimacing and prounding around, like saying you fools, who cares about this choir, who cares about this music.

      But even in the finer details, like clapping to deafen the music, or heavy shoe tapping doing the same.

      I also found troubling the frankly insulting caricaturization of the Spanish essence of the opera, there was a quasi colonialist mindset that I found truly disgusting.

      I suppose Mr Krosky is congratulating himself about a job well done, but ROH should think hard about how to modernize old time favourites while keeping the work recognizable, as it is yesterday's Carmen would have say nothing about how we understand this opera to new audiences, this productionmakes Carmen a disposable event, rather than one of the defining works of an art form.

  25. Mark responded on 11 February 2018 at 5:41pm Reply

    Well what can I say. This was without equal the worst production I've ever seen at ROH, and there have been a few turkeys recently. I couldn't stand it anymore, so since I was end of row I upped and went just after the Toreadors song. I had to bite my tongue from shouting out during one set of applause that I thought it was rubbish and had I stayed to the end would have definitely have booed - which would have been a first, and also targeted at the wrong people.

    I just hope that there weren't many people there who was their first time attending because seeing that would have put them off for life. The set - well I feel almost embarrassed to call it that - could have been designed by a nursery class - and was completely out of place, plus so noisy. Whoever thought that such a large set of steps was good enough to represent Seville is beyond me - no wonder we needed a voiceover and surtitles to explain the setting.

    The costumes were a complete disgrace - another production where the effort seems to have been to pop to M&S and get some suits.

    The dancers were off putting and anachronistic for the piece of work and just plain distracting. I felt they were more than surplus to requirements. The orchestra and chorus were as usual good, but I think we have found the reason why the unused music hadn't seen the light of day before - it added nothing and removed all drama from the piece.

    Least said about the gorilla costume the better.

    Also, I get seats centrally where I can, but why oh why do you put on productions where performers are doing things right at the edge. I can understand it on an ensemble piece, not everyone can be plum centre, but there was no excuse last night, when the rest of the stage was empty. If the corner was supposed to be representing something then it was lost on me.

    I wish there was some way to get my money back, and I hope that things improve over the next few productions, otherwise ROH I'll be out.

  26. Barry Chaiken responded on 11 February 2018 at 11:02pm Reply

    Saw Carmen in Prague then in London just weeks apart, but although different, loved them both. This production was just awful. Where was the sexual tension between the characters? The chorus was a mass of singers with no role or identity. Cigar factory workers? Soldiers? Gypsies? This production could not care. The set forced you to close your eyes to imagine where it was taking place since it looked more like a school gym. Who scored the last basket? Oh, we are at the Royal Opera House and this is Carmen. We flew from NYC to see this production and visit a favorite hall. Time to take a Big Bus Tour for real entertainment.

  27. Dewi Hughes responded on 15 February 2018 at 12:16am Reply

    This was Carmen in the 21st Century and different from anything I have seen before.
    Barry Kosky's last production 'The Nose' was disgraceful but this Carmen was good - singing excellent especially Kristina Mkhitaryan, also acting and dancing and a superb orchestra. Some of the lighting could have been better and the costumes were disgraceful - definitely a lack of colour. With such an excellent Costume Department at the ROH why use Black and White from Frankfurt Opera. Will people go to see a black and white film at the cinema? This is the 21st century not the nineteenth.

  28. H Kennedy responded on 15 February 2018 at 12:35am Reply

    I couldn’t see the passion between Carmen and Don Jose at the start of their relationship. I found the set a bit of a distraction even though it was aesthetically pleasing and interesting. Overall the production lacked a flow and the exuberance and energy of other Carmens I’ve seen. Although Carmen is usually a great first opera, I wouldn’t recommend this production as a first opera visit.

  29. Mike R responded on 15 February 2018 at 11:50am Reply

    When I think of Carmen, I think of sensuality, energy, passion and Spain. I want to believe that Carmen would fall for me, even though I know she'd let me down. I want to feel sympathy, empathy even, for Don Jose - the guy who wasn't good enough to get the girl. I also want to be Escamillo, the dashing hero that every man would want to be.

    Didn't get any of that from this "alternative" performance. There was no energy, no excitement, no sensuality - I don't blame the performers, who I'm sure are very talented, it's the production that failed here. Even the incredible music which sets Carmen apart from so many other productions didn't engage me.

    I can't "unsee" this - I wish I could, but I now feel a strong urge to watch Carmen somewhere else to restore my faith.

  30. Michael responded on 16 February 2018 at 1:39am Reply

    I attended the performance on february 14.
    Most of you have commented on this new production. Love it or hate it I will agree with John Lezemore comment that the ROH had a lavish production of Carmen which was not that old and would have continue to attract the public when cast with great singers .
    The ROH has now a new production that they may revive once or maybe twice but that will look tired and passé quite fast.
    As a friend and a big opera fan I can only question the decision of the ROH has made to invest money to change productions that don't really need to be changed ie Il Trovatore, Ballo and now Carmen.
    Money that could of been invested in bringing operas that have not been presented at the ROH for many years.

    This beeing said i would like to comment on the fabulous singing of Goryachova and Mkhitaryan last wednesday night.
    Goryachova demonstrated that she is without a doubt one of the top 5 mezzo-sopranos in the world and hopefully de will have the oportunity to hear her often in the years to come in London.
    Mkhitaryan showed us on wednesday night that this is a soprano to watch very closely.

  31. Janet Scrace responded on 16 February 2018 at 9:19pm Reply

    I saw today's matinee performance (16 Feb) with the new cast. Oh dear, where to start. How was such a sensual and provocative opera with so many evocative arias reduced to such a boring piece?. Where was the chemistry between the lovers? Why did they fall in love with Carmen? A lovely soprano but without the necessary spark and sass to attract such a following. She just melted into the chorus. Couldn't understand why any man would give up his career for her and so much of the symbolism was facile. Felt the staging upstaged the whole production. The noise of the chorus traversing the staircase drowned out the singers on many occasions. Also did not like the spoken narrative. The story should have been conveyed by recitative rather by a disembodied voice. From where I was sitting in row L Amphitheatre found the lighting/staircase very troublesome (migraine alert for those so inclined). Because the main characters had no charisma and the staging was bland I was almost nodding off. Not a lot to hold the attention. Such a long act (110 mins). What a pity this wonderful opera has been reduced to this. I voted with my feet at the interval.

  32. Eric FIrkins responded on 17 February 2018 at 8:15am Reply

    I read all the other reviews before seeing it yesterday and went there with an open mind. The production focuses on the beauty and the attraction of Carmen and contrasts this against the naivety of Micaela. This makes the actionof Don Jose understandable.
    There are many very interesting ideas in this production that I loved. i thought that the ballet dancers leading the singers and chorus was innovative but I would have found a change in set more interesting rather than having the same flight of steps all the time. I felt concern for the dancers doing high kicks poised near the the top of the steps.
    I am very glad I saw such an interesting production.

  33. J.pringlr responded on 17 February 2018 at 9:07am Reply

    I enjoyed the production, yes it is different! Yes I do love the more traditional version but both are a joy, it was a matinee performance, the outcome a standing ovation from the audience! Just lose the gorilla, I can only think this a trademark of this company, as I saw no other relevance. All in all I had a lovely day

    • john responded on 18 February 2018 at 12:17pm

      In my opinion, the key to the Gorilla is in the Musical CABARET during the song IF YOU COULD SEE HER THROUGH MY EYES.....Carmen, may seem to be a calculating, unfeeling and heartless person, seen by many, was actually a beautiful human person underneath it all. Just my opinion....and I loved this new production by Kosky.

  34. Best Carmen I've seen. Don Jose's jealousy turning to controlling violence was intelligent - it motivated her rejection of him - not just an annoying puppy dog but a real threat. Made her far more understandable and sympathetic than in most productions. Also loved chorus, dancing & versatile stairs. I had first night of second cast - wonderful. Beautiful and convincing performances.

  35. jill nicholls responded on 17 February 2018 at 5:50pm Reply

    First Carmen I have seen where character of Carmen makes sense - her rejection of Don Jose is bc he's controlling & violent (not just an annoying puppy/conformist). Whole opera made more sense than usual. Also loved staging, staircase, dancing, jokes (except v last one!). Really engrossing. Liked the 'framing' voiceover too. Don't get how reaction largely so hostile

  36. Marie Dahl Kell responded on 17 February 2018 at 8:32pm Reply

    What a disgrace and shame.

    Leading singers not on top form.
    Too much Vaudeville show,
    too little true Carmen.

    Never have I seen more lycra, nylon and polyester in any show than commercials for wrestling. It was the most ill fitted horrible tacky cheap naff costumes. Utterly boring too. Horrible make-up and hair. Costumes partly 1920s, 40s, 50s and a some what Hawaii shirt and 1980 pink neon for Carmen as matador costume that no one though of hiding her modesty.
    We are talking about one of the most beautiful ladies in opera and her costumes were so poor and tacky it must have hurt her to wear, especially making what was supposed to be a grand debut in the ROH.

    Lighting seemed to be as amateurish as the costumes. Over exposed light and or mainly half half lighting.

    I am greatful I have been to incredibly many operas through out my life if it was not for my husband being present I TOO would have walked out during the pause.
    Absolutely scandalous.

    The ending bizarre and not funny despite people laughed politely.

    Dancers were good but completely unnessasary and took away from the drama and the emotions in bizarre over the top laughter and slap stick like dancing.

    All in all A massacre of Bizet.
    Would not even rate it 1 star.

    Such a shame as ROH should represent the finest in the world. If this was my first opera I would never return.

  37. M Chapman responded on 18 February 2018 at 8:30am Reply


  38. Gabi responded on 20 February 2018 at 9:16pm Reply

    Such an amazing cast, such beautiful music... drowned and lost in this utter failure of a production. I wish I had read the reviews beforehand and returned my ticket. The constant stomping up and down the stairs was even more annoying than the "rain" in Idomeneo, the adapted score makes zero sense and, quite frankly, the whole thing is up there with Manon Lescaut and William Tell, another production I just want to forget entirely.
    Yes, there is skillful dancing, and there are a handful of good moments, but overall it just doesn't work!
    Such a pitty... one of my favourite operas, absolutely ruined!

  39. Alexa responded on 20 February 2018 at 10:18pm Reply

    What is wrong at the Royal Opera House? How can you show such absolute garbage. Grunge opera. This wasn't Carmen - it was the most tedious, hideous production I have ever seen. I left after seeing Carmen appear, in a gorilla suit, at the top of the eyesore of a staircase, which filled every inch of the stage. Looking at horizontal lines all night is not my idea of fun. Hated it totally and couldn't remove myself fast enough. No stage sets, no costumes, no joy, no colour, no atmosphere. Are refunds being offered? Not quite what you expect when the packaging says "Carmen" and you're in one of the world's top opera houses. Hope someone is reading all these bad reviews and talking note.

  40. peterstephen responded on 21 February 2018 at 1:35am Reply

    Tuesday 20/02/18. My heart sank and a drowsy numbness pained my sense as though of hemlock I had drunk. One felt cheated because that was NOT Carmen. Your advertising says that Barrie Kosky directs Bizet's much loved opera. From many reactions on this page this production will never be much loved. As processed food creates unwanted ills, so it is with opera. Let's have it nurtured and wholesome as close to the original as possible and leave this tinkering to village hall amateurs where it belongs. As ever I exclude all musicians and singers from criticism.

  41. Philip Anderson responded on 21 February 2018 at 9:17am Reply

    Quite brilliant. It's a shame that some seem not to understand that good art should challenge convention and cause controversy.

    • Tzctroh responded on 7 March 2018 at 10:27am

      No, good art should makes us think, but this production is controversial for controvery's sakes.

      It is a provocation, like somebody taking a knife and slashing a Picasso and declaring it a new form of painting, we would recognise the Picasso just yet, but we would escort that individual out of the museum (to jail) with all his controversy packed with him for good measure.

      I saw a modernized version of Carmen ambiented in the Mexican border last year, it was modern, making reference to modern themes, in a culture similar but not identical to Spain's, where the motivations of the characters were easily recognizable and relatable.

      Or I saw NT Met's revival of Rigoletto in Crooners's Vegas.

      They both worked.

      There is a point at which it all becomes about me, me ,me, look at me, when directors thinker so much with the opera that they damage it beyond recognition.

      This staging is proof that opera companies should keep a tab on the egos of some directors out there that are out to make a name for themselves serving themselves of the opera rather than putting their talents to the service of the opera.

  42. Michael responded on 21 February 2018 at 10:12am Reply

    What I object to is less the "re-imagining" of Carmen - Kosky's production of "Saul" showed how an inspired "re-imagining" can be exciting and thoughtful.

    What really irritated me about this production was the laziness and the lack of imagination shown by Kosky.

    A lousy set consisting of a staircase (clattered up and down frequently), a mishmash of costumes, principal roles frequently left to their own devices (Meli "stood and delivered" his Act 2 aria from the front of the stage to the auditorium without even looking at Goryachova, who had wandered to the other side of the stage, and this was by no means the only case), and a total lack of chemistry between any of the characters in Acts 1 & 2 (things did warm up in Acts 3 & 4 when Jose started getting angry with Carmen, but his anger doesn't make sense if his love isn't convincing in the first half). Frequently, the jumping, hopping, and hand-waving just seemed a "will this do?" from a director who didn't know what to do with the performers, or how to fill the time.

    And as for the somniferous narrator, ugh! One might make the case for Mérimée being a great writer (though I wouldn't), and in the hands of a better narrator, and a better choice of excerpts, this aspect could perhaps have worked. But the narrator sounded post-anesthetized, utterly bored with the material she had been given, and as a result there was an audible sagging of tension every time she broke in as the audience coughed, rustled, shuffled, and muttered. Horrible, horrible in all aspects.

    Please, if this is the best the ROH can currently offer as a "new" production, bring back the Zambello production. I gather it wasn't to everyone's tastes, but it was infinitely preferable to this embarrassment. I certainly won't be wasting my time on this mess again.

  43. Pedro responded on 21 February 2018 at 10:39am Reply

    A gorilla singing La Habanera...for God's sake...A GORILLA SINGING LA HABANERA. I can't possibly make this stuff up. IT HAPPENED.

    The narration destroyed the story and the toreador Escamillo dances like me drunk in a wedding.

    Avoid at any cost.

    • Vera Rodgers responded on 6 March 2018 at 10:10pm

      I agree. For me the gorilla outfit was the last straw. I walked out feeling completely ripped off and I was only at the live broadcast. Thank Goodness I didn’t pay for a seat in the Opera House. Dreadful and such a waste of money!!

  44. Afro responded on 21 February 2018 at 1:33pm Reply

    What a huge dissapointment, because at the time of booking our seats, we were not advised that Carmen would be appearing in a Gorilla suit.
    The stage setting appeared to have been designed by a person with no or very little iimagination. The costume design had a lack of any integrity and could have been designed by a four year old child.
    The quality of singing and the orchestra was excellent.
    We was rather unnerved by the clown faces and the facial muscle exercises used by the cast.
    In all, it was a huge and expensive waste of time.
    In all

  45. Helen responded on 21 February 2018 at 2:16pm Reply

    This was the first time in a longish life that I have walked out on an opera. The production is a travesty of the original. And as an American-style musical it lacks talent - the singing is mediocre, the dancing basic, and the overall impact is one of boredom. The only redeeming feature was the excellence of the chorus, who managed to sing beautifully in spite of having to scamper up and down that staircase.The interval came as a relief as it allowed us to escape from seeing any more of that staircase. Incidentally the uniformly black costumes made me wonder whether the whole evening was being staged in support of #me too.

  46. Irena Falcone responded on 21 February 2018 at 3:23pm Reply

    Last night was the worst night at the Royal Opera House I have ever had. I walked out after act 1/2. I think that combining Act 1 and Act 2 into a two hours long act was an attempt to force the audience to watch most of this horrible "show" without the possibility of leaving. Which worked for us as we were stuck at the end of the row and could not leave without disturbing a lot of people, mind you everybody looked quite disturbed anyway. I am a 54 years old woman suffering from scoliosis so the two hours of sitting in the narrow restricted space was agony. Not only was I in physical pain but I was being subjected to listening and watching something that had very little to do with Carmen. One thing I could compare this to is going for a nice meal in a French restaurant ordering a sophisticated meal and once put in front of you a waiter pouring half a bottle of ketchup on it. Well I had to take a day off today to recover, suffering a terrible pain in my back due to that ordeal, felling also quite bewildered hoping that I can soon go and see Carmen and be able to lose the bad taste in my mouth after seeing yesterday's disastrous interpretation of it. When selling tickets for the show a health warning should be issued for all the above reasons. Unfortunately, traditionally the audience of the Royal Opera House is mainly people my age and older. Therefore subjecting this age group to this torture should be taken into consideration by ROH in the future. I was there last night with my two grown up children, and even my 25 year old son, aside from being seriously uncomfortable, wasn't sure if we had gone to the right show because it was definitely not an opera. My late husband and I introduced our children to opera at a early point in their lives, and I am happy that this was not their first experience with Carmen or opera in general because this was a travesty.

  47. Geoff Bell responded on 21 February 2018 at 3:31pm Reply

    Should have been a high point of the season, instead was the terribly dull.
    Painted, camp dancers stood out as simply odd, anachronistic even.
    Narration started out as interesting but, when it became evident there would be no singing, the narration/songs just became a homogenous nonsense.

  48. Nett responded on 21 February 2018 at 4:23pm Reply

    This was the first opera I'd ever attended - though I go to both subsidised and west end theatre regularly.

    We left at the interval.

    I love the music from Carmen and I enjoyed the use of dance in this production but found the pace incredibly slow and a bit dull. It did not feel like a true depiction of Serville. The steps were incredibly annoying to look at for any length of time - they seemed to strobe.

  49. Jaime Ruiz Rocamora responded on 21 February 2018 at 4:50pm Reply

    I attended the play on the 20th of February. I am not against "good art challenging convention" and modern and refreshing versions. But the whole piece was tasteless, vapid and, at some point, absurd. Experimenting is fine, but this attempt was horrible and disastrous. The whitefaced mime-type dancers, the utter basic and unappropriate costume design, the odd ultralong staircase staging, the queery toreros, the poor voices and performances (save Micaela), Carmen dressed as a gorilla... A fair amount of people around me in the stalls left at the interval. And those who stayed did the worst you could do at the very end, show your indifference and leave. If this is the future of the Opera, turn the lights off and let's go somewhere else (as we'd say in Spanish "apaga y vámonos"). Waste of time and money. I would not recommend this to my worst enemy.

  50. Will responded on 21 February 2018 at 5:01pm Reply

    I also attended the performance of 20 February. While the music of Carmen is always lovely, this production is awful. I enjoy modern interpretations, if done well. I found the evening devoid of inspiration; mediocre voices, bizarre dancing, an emaciated set. This is the worst £175 I have ever spent!

  51. Ann O'Shaughnessy responded on 21 February 2018 at 5:06pm Reply

    Last night I went to see Bizet's exciting, vibrant opera, Carmen - what I saw was a ghastly mix of burlesque, Hollywood musical and cabaret - definitely not opera as I know and love it. What a sinful waste of talent - even our wonderful ROH chorus struggled, being constantly herded to one side of that staircase, huddled together, jiggling about and waggling their hands to try and create a sense of something - I still don't know what. It was dull and boring to watch with principals having to stand or sit whilst that droning narrator prattled on. It is the first time in my long life of opera going that I have been tempted to walk out. The gorilla suit should have been due warning but we tend to live in hope. I rarely miss a production at ROH but this one goes in the box with the recent Lucia - never again.

  52. Julia responded on 22 February 2018 at 9:20am Reply

    Well, I attended on February 20th and enjoyed my evening, so adding my comments in an attempt to balance the books somewhat.... Mind you, I have to say that I wasn't actually blown over, although I had been really excited by the idea of a stylised re-imagining of Carmen. But this production wasn't quite up to it. A bit of a mixed bag, with potential, but insufficiently thought through by Kosky, so ultimately a bit flailing and uneven, but could be perhaps lifted to brilliance. with some tweeks...) some of the aspects that did not gel for me: the gorilla costume was an incongruous and irritating reference to Cabaret; the set was much too static; the acoustics not paid sufficient attention to; the dancing, although expertly done didn't always complement the music as it should have. But : some aspects worked very well for me: I found the narration a great touch; the costumes were generally brilliant; really interesting characterisations of the prinicipals; quality singing all round. I found Goryachova had excellent stage presence. And ultimately, yes I would recommend that you see it...

  53. s trow responded on 22 February 2018 at 8:50pm Reply

    I attended on the 20th feb and was shocked how you had turned this beautiful colourful opera into a terrible mess, boring scenery with people dressed in various types of clothing running up and down stairs waving their arms around and as for the gorilla well what can I say ? Several of the audience around me left when the interval arrived - no surprise there it was absolutely dreadful.

  54. Anastasia responded on 22 February 2018 at 11:04pm Reply

    There is no need to warn potential opera goers, quite possibly first time opera goers, to stay away from this brilliant re-imagining of Carmen. Alas, it is almost completely sold out. If the wonderful genre of opera is to survive, it has to be bold and imaginative. To those whose hearts sank and who only commented on the “gorilla” singing La Habanera, have you actually watched Barry Kosky explaining his thinking behind this production? It is available on the ROH website and I can attest to it having been the most insightful of Insights. Please watch it. And go and see the second cast with Mlle Arquez if you are lucky to get a return as I have just been. Good luck!

    • Tzctroh responded on 7 March 2018 at 10:39am

      If we have to watch the director explaining what he did before watching the opera in order to understand what the point of all the gimmicks is then the production has failed.

      Carmen's premise is not that complicated, that this director manages to convert it in such a contorted mess that you need a pre-performance explanation to "get it" says it all really.

  55. Kevin B responded on 23 February 2018 at 12:10am Reply

    I was trying to give this production a fair hearing but when we reached the end of act I and it was clear that all the drama and tension of Carmen's escape was completely frittered away and all we were left with was a dancer laughing derisively at us for spending our hard-earned on this self-indulgent rubbish I knew I was in for a long night.

    Les Tringles cheered me up a bit, and tremendous kudos to Ms Goryachova and the girls for doing such a great job of singing while having to dance around so much.

    Then we had "Nous avons en tête une affaire" which while I agree the number is a bit of light relief, is not really a hand jive piece. I like my smugglers with a touch of menace but this interpretation lost everything about them.

    It is really a pity because I was looking forward to seeing Goryachova singing Carmen. She has such a wonderful voice for the part but the whole experience was lost in the mess of this ridiculous production.

    Bin it!

    Bring back the Zambella production, preferably before the Cinema showing in April and then we might see what the cast, especially Ms Goryachova, can do with Carmen, the opera.

  56. Christoph Hollger responded on 23 February 2018 at 9:39am Reply

    I was very much saddened by the production! There is nothing wrong with a modern take on opera, but for me it is not ok to alter the opera itself to accommodate the production. There is no reason to that either. The female narrator was never intended to be there, but the director obviously wanted to show to the audience that they are just elisist folks who needed a bit of an upsetting experience. Thank goodness you are always free to walk out, which is what I did. The evening was a list of missed chances to make opera relevant in the 21st century. Carmen - although a household piece that everyone who is interested in opera seems to know inside out - remains a tragedy which I expected to see, but this was a travesty: The media all around London lament the problem this city has with knife crime. Here would have been a chance to bring this problem to the stage without needlessly humiliating a work of art and its audience. In previous years I have seen a few productions at Frankfurt Opera House (where this one came from) and this Carmen fits very nicely in a long row of highly annoying experiences which I had there. Please no more Frankfurt collaboration and no more Kosky. I do like a provocation on stage, but first and foremost, I like it to be done in an intelligent manner.

  57. Tim Wheater responded on 23 February 2018 at 4:11pm Reply

    In the main I was surprised and disappointed by this production. The orchestra and musical direction were first class. Sadly this was not matched by the rest of the performance. In particular the dancing reminded me of those TV pop groups such as S club 7. The staging also became tedious after a while. A rather silly production.

  58. Graham Feakins responded on 24 February 2018 at 6:52am Reply

    I missed the performance through illness but my companion attended, only to return to tell me that I'd wasted £175 each for both of us in the Stalls. He was furious and from what he told me, I would have booed for the first time in my 56 years' worth of attending the ROH (my companion is younger than me but has been to the ROH for the past 20 years and witnessed, and enjoyed, the previous version of Carmen).

    If it hadn't been for my paying for the ticket, my companion would have walked out, as indeed several were seen to do so in the Stalls, even before the interval (23rd Feb 'performance'). Several more never returned after the interval.

    As a Friend of the ROH, I wonder whether now to continue my membership. I've witnessed a few rotten performances recently, e.g. Lucia and Boheme but I'm not going to continue to support this sort of tat in the light of the majority of the comments above. I know how Carmen is scored and usually interpreted in a classical manner and this version is apparently not classical, bears little relationship to the tale that's meant to evolve, whilst the set and lighting (lacking, quality of, also in other recent productions), means that the next time I want to see Carmen performed, it'll likely be on the stage of an amdram operatic society. They can't do worse.

    I add my voice to those who urge the ROH never to revive this production again (unless there's money to spare, of course, which I gather there isn't)...

  59. Nigel Ashton responded on 24 February 2018 at 10:27am Reply

    Sensational evening, this is how to engage a younger audience with the repertoire. Kovsky is a genius, Maestersingers, Saul and now an astonishing Carmen please ROH make him an associate director and pencil him in for a new Ring.

  60. Philip Sides responded on 24 February 2018 at 10:33am Reply

    The ROH says it’s a world stage presenting top productions with outstanding singers. What I saw on 23 February was far from that. The staging was cheap and monotonous and the constant running up and down the steps interfered with the singing. The costumes - including the ridiculous gorilla- were dull and lacking in sensuality, surely one of the central themes of the opera. The dancing did not make up for the lack of scene change, and the annoying narrator was patronising and got in the way. Her describing a square in Seville is, I suppose, much cheaper than recreating one, but I didn’t notice any reduction in ticket prices for this drivel. And worst of all, the singers were not much to shout about either, their voices somehow getting lost in the stairwell. It was too long and never gained any momentum.
    Most cities in Germany have their own opera house, so this might be acceptable there because there’s plenty of choice and productions will be cheaper. But this was an embarrassment on a world class stage and is the latest in a very poor selection of productions over the last few years. And finally, from my seat half way up the Amp, you could see the performers preparing to come back down the staircase. Hardly world class.

  61. Peter Hatch responded on 24 February 2018 at 10:35am Reply

    An incredibly refreshing reinvention of Carmen. A triumph with vigour, Spanish dance and French cabaret at its heart. All performed with utmost refinement and polish that could only be expected from one of the world’s leading operatic directors.

  62. Jenny Myers responded on 24 February 2018 at 11:06am Reply

    Carmen ruined. Totally disappointed by this production. Staging is drab and the commentary is irritating and unnecessary. The whole story is lost in prententious styling and out of place and silly ‘pop’ dancing, as well as a Carmen who’s voice isn’t strong enough to hold a note. We left at the interval. Give me a swashbuckling, corseted version of Carmen any day of the week over this dreary load of rubbish. Shame on you ROH.

  63. Every opera house should have the right to fail..this season has been on the whole pretty damn good...Salome, Lucia and especially Vespres Siciliennes. The more famous operas have eluded the Royal Opera this year, however. A messy Boheme, An uninspiring Tosca and now the awful Carmen. I felt sorry for the person who said this was their first viewing of this tremendous piece of Musical Theatre full of intense passion and drama. There was none to see here. Kovsky clearly dislikes the opera intensely ..there can be no other explanation for his alienating production where the plot is relayed to the poor unsuspecting audience by a dreary voice over. The director clearly not trusting the work of Merime or Bizet tells us what's going on, because if he didn't no one would be able to make head or tale of it! Passion is reduced to nonsense where Don Jose and Carmen rarely even look at each other - where the chorus are made to watch like a football match on a meaningless flight of stairs designed to be as awkward as possible...confining all action to the front 10% of the stage. The Habanera is reduced to a piece of gyrating self congratulation where poor Carmen is made to look foolish as she picks her way down stairs while the chorus look on in stupefaction! A real shame as Anna Goryachova is a fine singer and will, in a proper production, be excellent. There are moments to savour...some delightful choreography at the beginning of Act 2, although quite irrelevant and forgotten when the narcissistic Escamillo arrives...a man who has clearly never been near a bull in his life...he plays the role like a shocked Marilyn Monroe draping himself over a posse of nightclub dancers. Sadly I could go on unpicking this incomprehensible mess but I feel sorry for Bizet and Merime who's work has been ignored to indulge a director who believes that his talent is better than the original and who has no faith in anything but his misguided vision. A success it isn't...

  64. Polly responded on 27 February 2018 at 10:02pm Reply

    The real shame for me was that there was no chemistry, as there is so little interaction between Carmen and Don José with the removal of the dialogue. I have always felt that Carmen is all about the psychological drama, of which there is zero in this production.
    I have no issues with bonkers Kosky productions; I loved The Nose and have lost count of the number of times I have watched Saul on Sky Arts after seeing it twice at Glyndebourne (and have tickets for this summer). However, I will be polite and say that I was crushed with disappointment with this... If I wanted to see non-stop jazz hands I would go to a musical... Maybe I am a total dinosaur at the age of 42 and didn’t get the concept.... 35 years of opera going and this was in the top three of hated productions! Actually, ROH, all 3 have been yours! Holten Meistersinger and Holten Onegin being the other two - AWFUL! Luckily, it seems the 1st time opera goers, who normally frequent musicals, like this production. Personally I would rather spend my money on the fairies that are currently at the Coli - ENO’s Iolanthe and Dream are brilliant!

  65. Feb 27. Quite ghastly. Left at the interval. Far too much background stomping noise on the steps and very distracting cast movement behind the steps (as seen from the Amphitheatre row J). Regarding the performance, minimal romance, gratuitous jazz hands dancing, and below par singing. Not an enjoyable evening for me at all, I’m afraid.

  66. Marine responded on 28 February 2018 at 1:30pm Reply

    This was my first time at the ROH :)
    Unfortunately this was also a disappointment.
    I have seen a couple of operas before, and went there with my partner and a friend, for whom it was their first time at the opera.
    Hopefully this has not deterred them forever. I feel a bit responsible for their demise.
    I love Carmen - read the book when I was a teenager, know La Habanera by heart... but could not find any passion/ love/ attraction/ despair in last night's performance.
    To be more accurate, I think the singers/ orchestra/ dancers gave their best, but the production was just terrible...
    At first, I thought maybe it was me, after all I am not an opera connoisseur - but reading some of the comments above, I feel I'm not the only one thinking it has been an insult to the original story.
    One person mentioned in the comments that there was a video of Kosky explaining why Carmen appeared in a gorilla costume, I would really much like to watch it, because I've completely missed the point - if there is any.
    What I love about the story, Sevilla, the love, the passion, the clothing, everything was lost - making it, as incredible as it may sound, a BORING opera, even with all the dancing around (I'm sorry, I was just not into it at all).
    Singing 'La Habanera' in that gorilla costume ruined the song. When I watch opera, all my senses are into the moment, the song... this time I could not get into it because the visual was so underwhelming. I did not feel anything.
    This is such a shame, to ruin such beautiful, passionate songs with such a tepid set!
    I did not get the stairs, the face paint, the gorilla costume, the 'office' attire.
    A few people left after that incredibly long first part. I don't blame them. The second part was more enjoyable, but maybe because I knew it was all coming to an end.
    There was also a lot of narrating. I am French so didn't need the subtitles for these parts but it was very uncomfortable for my friends.
    Such a disappointment, really. I will be coming back to the ROH but I will try to choose the production more carefully...
    FYI too I'm under 30 years old, I consider myself usually quite open-minded, especially artistically speaking but this... no. I did not find it 'provocative', ‘creative’ nor 'funny'.

  67. A Rowley responded on 28 February 2018 at 2:20pm Reply

    Saw it last night with the very good B cast and to my considerable surprise found myself enjoying it rather a lot. It certainly didn't all work: Bizet knew what he was doing when he ditched some of the music he had prepared earlier, but I loved the narration from the novel and the chorus were as good as I have ever heard any chorus anywhere. I noticed one empty seat after the interval but who knows, that could have been because of the snow. Audience reaction at the end seemed very favourable and I was deeply impressed by the large group of primary school children (from Derby, apparently) who behaved impeccably throughout a long evening - a sure sign they were being entertained.

  68. Assen responded on 28 February 2018 at 3:27pm Reply

    Together with my wife attended the 20th Feb 2018 rendition of Carmen, paying premium for good seats. I would not describe myself an opera connoisseur, but have attended more than 1 classically set operas, including one in Covent Garden, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
    The setting of this opera was really bad on so many levels, that we could barely wait for the antract to exit the theatre.
    Here are some of most annoying features of this production:
    1) The stage was comprised of a single staircase only?!?
    2) The cast included a group of dancers/clowns. To what end?
    3) The excessive narration in French, with the actors just standing by. Were they tired of singing or what?
    4) Costumes were ridiculous, specially the guerrilla suit Carmen appeared in at one point in the production.
    It's a real pity there's no money back for the otherise exorbitantly priced tickets.
    Bad, Bad, Bad production!!!

  69. Ester responded on 1 March 2018 at 1:27pm Reply

    I went to see this production 4 times so far (6/2;14/2;16/2; 27/2 and will do on the 8th March again) as I am learning several roles from it. I came and will come there for the music and conducting of Jakub Hrusa. I knew it was going to be different and I must say, that I liked some moments of the dance, but over all, I found too much movement and too much of background noise in it. I found the narrator speaking a good idea, except, there were moments, where she talked over the music, which I found very disturbing... I am missing the dialogue between the characters from the original version and it adds on to the fact, that there is not a real chemistry between Don Chose and Carmen... The orchestra, singers and the choir are doing a fantastic job... I really dislike the excessive laughing and clapping of Carmen and some dancers...Carmen looks as being excessively arrogant at times. The dancers are great and expressive, but I do not think it belongs to Carmen and it changes the moods into something like cabaret ... It really brings disconnection in between the parts and scenes... it is like a slap in a face at some moments. Also, the white faces of the choir singer - didn't like it and feel sorry for them to have to put it on and off at each performance. The dancers are great actors, they are doing a fabulous job, very expressive dancing, nothing "much classical and opera like". I understand why some opera lovers are disliking this production. I shut my eyes or focus only on the music, orchestra or singing at some moments as find it too much at times. I do NOT like at all the gorilla Habanera entrance of Carmen. That I really think was a huge mistake. The music is great, the production is challenging... I definitely prefer the old traditional version at the ROH. Anyway, well done to the team, singers and conductors for their hard work. Thanks for the music, Bizet... :)

  70. Arzu Sahan responded on 4 March 2018 at 12:09am Reply

    I think Carmen was generally good. But also I found some details in performance unnecessary or irrelevant. I knew that this was a modern interpretation. I think some modern elements are irrelevant even irritationg. Like when Carmen does her first singing she is in a gorilla costume. I find it very irrelevant and as if too much effort to make it "modern". I think a good mask (maybe of a bull) or something would give a better effect. Or nothing. Also there were some dancers dancing a lot with clubbing moves. It seemed like more like a sexy club dancing. I like modern dance yet I guess seeing modern dance with Spanish dance motifes would suit better to this production.

  71. Tracy Chapman responded on 4 March 2018 at 11:26am Reply

    The worst production of any opera I have ever seen. The stair set was awful making the production far too noisy, beautiful music ruined by the clomping of feet up and down the stairs. The first half was far too long people did not return for the second half. I don’t blame them.
    I can somewhat understand that Mr Kosky was striving for strong imagery. However some bits worked and others didn’t. Carmens long train worked but the Gorilla costume didn’t. The dancing was such a mixture of styles it brought no entertainment value whatsoever except for the toreador scene.
    The extra music Bizet wrote were discarded by him for a reason. It should have stayed that way.
    The narration pieces should have been shorter but overall they were a good idea in trying to tell the story.
    I’m not a traditionalist when it comes to opera. If I pay good money to see a production I expect it to be worthwhile. I left thinking that I could have done better!

  72. Malte Flechtner responded on 4 March 2018 at 4:33pm Reply

    I loved it. I have seen Carmen a number of times, also the previous ROH performance. I thought this was a real achievement. It liberated Carmen from layer and layer of standard conventional performance history that usually includes all kinds of Spanish stereotypes and cliches. The music is so well known that it is difficult to make it fresh again. This here worked for me. The narrator and music that is usually not heard, gave it a freshness that was entirely lacking in the previous ROH performance. The different dancing styles and stunning visual effects complemented the brilliant musical performance of singers and orchestra. For me this is one of the best thought out productions of the ROH in a long time. I guess that part of the irritation voiced by some stems from preset expectations that were not met. However, isn't that what good art should be about?

    • Tzctroh responded on 7 March 2018 at 10:48am

      Carmen music is fresh on its own right when played by any competent orchestra.

      It doesn't need any "help" from anybody.

  73. Sam Lampugnani responded on 4 March 2018 at 4:51pm Reply

    Last night, for the first time in my life, I left an opera before the end, and I was not the only one! I do enjoy when established operas get an intelligent makeover; some of them I like, some of them I don't, but even when I don't, I always make the most of the music and the singing. The loud narrator and the noise from the stage prevented me from enjoying this Carmen even with my eyes shut!
    There is nothing else I can add that has not been said by others here.
    I hope the Royal Opera will listen to our voices. I can't wait to go back to see a new production of Carmen we can all enjoy!

  74. Paul Brennan responded on 4 March 2018 at 5:53pm Reply

    What has happened to the world class productions that I used to love in this renowned opera house. In the past few years I have been disconcerted by prophylactics floating past on a back screen representing water nymphs, an unfinished motor flyover as a Louisiana swamp and sets that were so ambiguous and amateurish that it detracted from the music...but last night’s production of Carmen outdid all.
    Carmen, that sultry temptress who uses her wiles to entice men.The powerful sexual chemistry, the gaiety of the gypsies, the fabulous costumes of the matadors and of a Spanish fiesta, the confrontational tension between the lovers, all enhancing the wonderful music. Where was it? Absent.
    Someone out of self indulgence or arrogance had gratuitously leached every admirable aspect of the opera to leave behind a hollow grotesque akin to a poor example of musical theatre.
    The set, the monochrome costumes, stilted performances, monkey suits?! a narration, all detracted from the music and left it vainly trying to regain its rightful position at the forefront.
    I would have loved to have booed but the wrong people were on stage.
    If this standard continues I will be paying more attention to my local church hall productions.

    • Angela Kennedy responded on 7 March 2018 at 6:23am

      Agree with every word you say ! Saw it last night , was excited to have a front row side seat but was drained with sheer disappointment . Have never ever seen so many people walk out though I honestly was longing for the finale.

  75. Lisa Turner responded on 5 March 2018 at 9:19pm Reply

    LOVED every minute of it! Such an engaging theatrical performance that was just mesmerizing. Too modern and minimal for traditionalists but we found it a refreshing, dynamic and brave production. Bravo!

    • Tzctroh responded on 7 March 2018 at 11:01am

      Unwittingly, you have pointed to the problem with this production.

      Opera isn't an exclusively theatrical performance, in opera the music isn't there just to underline the action in stage, it is an integral part of the art form, when you have a noisy staging, people screaming and clapping over the music, a narrator interrupting the intended musical flow of the piece, you are showing contempt for the piece,

      I truly thought the Mr Krovsky , the director, was a plant from the world of musical theatre, in which case I would have been more forgiving about his temerity, but his profession is actually a proper opera director, hes is supposed to understand about these things, but this production borders in the willfully insulting.

      Sorry but I don't go to the opera to se "theatrical experiences", I go to the theatre for that, actually Covent Garden could have got away with it if it had advertised the performances as a musical or show reimagined on Carmen, but they didn't do something of the sort, showing a worrying lack of judgement.

  76. Eileen Cullin responded on 6 March 2018 at 9:33am Reply

    saw 3rd March, waited a while before reviewing and not to be considered unenlightened I watched the insight with Kosky and I dislike the production even more now. Good to be warned in these reviews re the gorilla, managed a short guffaw before averting gaze to listen to music. In fact with most of the discordant, gurning frenetic dancing spent most of opera looking at my lap, could have done this at home and saved 3 top price stalls tickets. Stayed til the end, mainly because second half shorter and had meal booked at 10.30 but left (with most of my row) as the curtain came down, the foyer seemed to contain people doing same, I enjoyed singing and orchestra but just wanted to get away from this production.

  77. Luella Dixon responded on 6 March 2018 at 9:08pm Reply

    Watching at cinema and loving it. Good to get a different interpretation. I think most sexy Carmen Ive ever sern.

  78. Marie- Laure MERCUN responded on 6 March 2018 at 9:25pm Reply

    What a Cold version of Cabaret. I left at the entracte.

  79. Linda Ainley responded on 6 March 2018 at 9:33pm Reply

    Awful!!!!!! Dark, depressing and why oh why use those dreadful stairs! So disappointing!
    Glad I didn’t pay for a ticket at the ROH and only wasted £18 at the cinema

    • Val C responded on 18 March 2018 at 5:19pm

      Totally agree. No passion, no colour and that oh so dreary voice dribbling on between arias. I watch most ROH productions by live relay and this was so bad I begrudge the meagre £18 paid to my cinema! Bizet would turn in his proverbial....

  80. Magdalen responded on 6 March 2018 at 9:55pm Reply

    At the cinema and left at interval. What a disappointment. Dull, grey and boring set which constituted a single staircase. Cheap costumes and lifhting appalling. My first walk out from an ROH production.

  81. Barrie Segal responded on 6 March 2018 at 10:11pm Reply

    The set which was a dark staircase rather than a vivid Spanish scene should have warned me that things would be bleak.When Carmen appeared in a gorilla costume I knew that things had gone from bad to worse. The dark set meant that the singers had to be lit by spotlights and worse made it dangerous for the actors and singers (one tripped at the top of the stairs).. The off stage commentary only made it worse.I left at the interval.

  82. Dorothy Keith responded on 6 March 2018 at 11:05pm Reply

    It was fabulous. Our very first opera and it was throughly worthwhile. We were at Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh.

  83. Barry France responded on 6 March 2018 at 11:25pm Reply

    The worst production of Carmen I have ever seen. Dark, dull and totally out of character. Where was the colour, the Spanish dancing? Instead poor acting in dark, dismal business suits. We walked out at the interval.

  84. Heather McLaughlin responded on 6 March 2018 at 11:35pm Reply

    The last performance of Carmen I saw was in Sydney in 2007. A spectacular traditional performance it was wonderful. I knew this would be different but didn't realise by how much. The main arias didn't come across , either because of weak voices or dancers in the background or a gorilla costume (a what!! quite!) Frankly what was the point of ruining this opera? simply to show how avant garde the producer is? The Gay night club male dancers did nothing to enhance the opera merely annoyed. Were they there to tick some diversity box? I'm all for keeping Opera from becoming too stale and predictable but this ruined the music and the whole experience of seeing a wonderful opera. Shame on you Kosky for wasting so much time and money and wasting the audiences time and money.

  85. Ian Summers responded on 6 March 2018 at 11:44pm Reply

    Watched in the cinema. An exciting experience. Don't understand why many comments are so negative. True, some things misfired, but there were many memorable moments.

  86. Unjaded fan of Opera responded on 6 March 2018 at 11:56pm Reply

    For those of you who love and are well versed in Opera, I think you saw it at the wrong Venue. I can see how viewing this work from a seat at the ROH might pall - but I tell you this, seeing it on the big screen was remarkable. The main attraction, for me, is that you get right up close to the action. Faces fill the screen. Carmen practically devours Don Jose as she seduces him, mouth wide open like a lioness. So much is tangible. If a performer looks out, full of emotion and pain, from the top of the steps in an auditorium, you won't be able to experience or connect with that in the same way that a camera will. I completely get the Gorilla. What's not to enjoy for £12.50 per seat? You should try it :)

  87. John King responded on 7 March 2018 at 12:02am Reply

    This production must have had Bizet turning in his grave. No one should have the right to vandalise this most colourful of operas.
    I watched the relay to a theatre here in Spain and only a very few of the audience were around after the interval. I guess these relays around the world are to encourage more people to enjoy opera. A production like this will do the exact opposite.

  88. Angela Kennedy responded on 7 March 2018 at 12:18am Reply

    Still reeling with SHOCK at this interpretation of my favourite Carmen tonight !There’s NEW and there’s totally turning a revered classic upside down . I don’t mind a controversial production (sometimes ) but NOT when the set (an ugly staircase ) takes over . How the performers coped with running up and down (not to speak of the clattering of shoes ) is a miracle . At least beautiful Carmen was a star , as were the fabulous ROH chorus and of course Bizet’s wonderful music . AND why all those confusing changes of costume for Carmen - the opening Gorilla suit ? The only decent one was the finale dress with the exception of a ridiculous train that could hardly be manoeuvred and got stepped on by poor distraught Don - as if he didn’t have enough to deal with !

  89. Anthony Howlett responded on 7 March 2018 at 12:19am Reply

    I’m not an opera snob... goodness knows there’s a lot of them about.

    As a relative late comer to opera (this being only my 5th) I thought this evenings production to be entertaining, mesmerising and highly enjoyable.

    Great chorus performances, superb lead performances and sets that were modern and refreshing.

    Oh so many comments made about ‘old production values being lost’... what twaddle!

    Great night, great modern performance - thank you one and all!

    • Tzctroh responded on 7 March 2018 at 11:05am

      Typical, calling "snobs" people that are the ones that actually make the core audience of the Opera going public.

      There is a price of admission to this snobbery club, talk to us when you have paid it, 5 operas is not enough.

  90. Patricia Gore responded on 7 March 2018 at 12:50am Reply

    Living in the sticks, I hadn't heard of Barry Kosky before. Within a few minutes of the production starting though, I thought of Baz Luhrman and the way he murdered Moulin Rouge. So camp and over the top. Is this a peculiarly Aussie trait? OK if that's your bag but it's not mine. I prefer the music and the drama to shine through. This production got lost in its own efflorescence. Less is more!! I stayed to the bitter end and felt the final gesture by Carmen made fools of us all. Good to feel challenged though and I will look forward to my next production of Carmen complete with cigarette factory, working women and seductive gypsies.

  91. Jens Ove Nielsen responded on 7 March 2018 at 12:54am Reply

    Jens Ove, Viborg Denmark: Watched Carmen in the local cinema 6. of march. Did not like it! The play were totaly confused by the running up and down the big and ugly staircase and smiling meaningless dancers. Luck we haven't paid a fortune traveling to London, staying on hotel, expencive seats in The Royal Operahouse. But - normaly we love the transmissions.

  92. Stella responded on 7 March 2018 at 6:35am Reply

    Saw it yesterday. Loved it. Just a question: why the monkey?

    • Tzctroh responded on 7 March 2018 at 11:09am

      Pointless reference to Marlene Deitrich in a similar suit (they warned us parts of this farrago happened in 30s Berlin, that was part of it, for no good reason whatsoever).

      As an aside, the scene of la Dietrich coming out of her gorilla suit is embarrassingly racist. What a reference to chose Mr Kovsky.

  93. ssiii responded on 7 March 2018 at 8:49am Reply

    Worst and most boring production I’ve EVER seen. Worst and most boring set I’ve ever seen. Worst and most boring costumes I’ve ever seen. Hated the dancing and the stupid faces they all pulled; all their stupid movements. Wanted to leave during interval but my curiosity made me stay. What a waste of money; thank goodness I didn’t pay for a Covent Garden seat. Just do it as it’s meant to be and stop trying to be clever.

  94. Luxmi responded on 7 March 2018 at 9:11am Reply

    I became a friend of the ROH, having seen brilliant productions of Romeo & Juliet and Nutcracker. I feel cheated! This production of Carmen was disappointing in the extreme. We bought seats in the box to the left of the stage and missed most of the important scenes including the final murder scene! We were instead faced with the dullest set I have ever witnessed... an empty set of gigantic stairs filling the entire stage! Leaning over the edge didn't help to see what was happening on stage!
    Despite the great choir and good orchestra, I really hated the production. What was the gorilla costume about? Shocking! Unfortunately we booked these tickets before any reviews were published.
    Anyone seeing Carmen for the first time would have left this production not really knowing what this opera is about! What a shame. I feel sorry for those who spent a lot of money on a trip of a lifetime to the Royal Opera House to see what should have been a wonderful production! Definitely won't be booking another Kosky production.

    • Tzctroh responded on 7 March 2018 at 11:30am

      The gorilla is a reference to 30s Berlin, is reminiscent of a scene in a film in which Marlene Dietrich starts a cabaret performance emerging from a similar suit.

      The Dietrich film is not much better, grotesque and I think quite racist, worth watching it in youtube to see if deviating so far away from the essence of Carmen was actually a wise idea.

  95. Gabrielle Attwater responded on 7 March 2018 at 10:08am Reply

    Watched live screening of Carmen last night. An absolute stinker. Dreadful. Tedious. Unemotional. Amazed the stairs were allowed from a Health and Safety point of view. Couldn’t wait to go home. Has left
    us feeling angry. Such a shame as we’re opera lovers.

  96. Dennis Redmond responded on 7 March 2018 at 11:24am Reply

    Saw it in Birmingham what a fabulous spectacle- take little notice of other comments. This was superb well done ROH another winner

  97. CathyO responded on 7 March 2018 at 11:42am Reply

    I absolutely loved the production - however, as I was seated on the upper slips (left) could somebody please tell me what happened during the final murder scene which everybody laughed at?! That is my only complaint; is it really necessary to ensure that a large number of people cannot see the finale?!! Please tell me what happened!!!!!

  98. Paddy O'Farrell responded on 7 March 2018 at 12:12pm Reply

    This set could have been in London, Paris or British West Hartlepool.
    Sorry, don't do contemporary!

  99. Michel Laines responded on 7 March 2018 at 12:15pm Reply

    Where can I find the narrative about women at the beginning?

  100. Martin responded on 7 March 2018 at 12:17pm Reply

    What a disappointing evening!
    How can you make Carmen this tedious? Why take an opera that is quintessentially about passion and drop it into a bleak no man's land somewhere between Berlin, Paris and Seville?
    The whole thing seemed rather flat - I thought the point of opera was to combine theatre and music to provoke heightened emotions amid a flood of wonderful singing. How passé, it appears.

    The voice-over was intriguing the first couple of times, but then became irritating. And while it may be slightly interesting to have Carmen's back-story, I would rather read it in the programme. More significantly, removing the dialogue simply eliminated much of the opportunity for character development and delivering a coherent drama. Instead we had a series of sketches and a surfeit of irrelevant dance. I enjoyed the singing up to a point, but deprived of its real context, it somehow lacked conviction and never seemed to lift off.
    One positive point - the orchestra produced a great sound, and the chorus were also pretty good.
    My real complaint though is with the production and the wayward self-indulgence that seems to be the defining characteristic of this and too many other opera directors.

  101. G L Harris responded on 7 March 2018 at 12:18pm Reply

    You expect colour and light in Carmen, this production was drab and boring from the beginning, what was the gorilla suit and that ridiculous train for other than to provoke derision and disbelief, it was an endurance test which I just about endured. The one good thin about the evening was the singing of Micaela, it was brilliant. Please do let this type of production be come prevalent, otherwise the theatres will become empty all the time and rightly so

  102. Michael responded on 7 March 2018 at 12:51pm Reply

    I am not an opera expert but I saw Carmen at ROH a few years ago. That version was traditional and fun and memorable and I was totally engrossed in the historical and cultural setting.

    This Carmen is weird and other than the music, bears no resemblance to the traditional Carmen that I have previously enjoyed and loved. Lots of it makes no sense and is weird for the sake of weird. I do not care to read interviews or articles to try to understand this production. I don't need to do any research to understand the original Carmen.

    If I want to see something modern, I'd watch a movie, or theatre. I go to ROH and opera to see traditional arts.

    Unfortunately, myself and my friends do not enjoy this weird modern Carmen and will not be going again, unless ROH's next Carmen is their traditional version.

    Please bring back the original Carmen, that's what ROH is for.

    By the way, I'm 28, so I'm a millennial and I prefer traditional productions, too.


  103. Liza Osborne responded on 7 March 2018 at 3:28pm Reply

    Watched this production last night via the live link in my local cinema. Was slightly apprehensive after reading the various reviews here & having seen Carmen before - despite the entry of Carmen in the ridiculous gorilla suit, the symbolism of which escaped me!! & the distracting thundering of the shoes up & down the stairs - unless this was deep & meaningful couldn't softer soled shoes been provided?
    However I loved it!! The staging, dancing, the involvement of the chorus all made for a very different Carmen which I thoroughly enjoyed - thank you.

  104. Charles Murray responded on 7 March 2018 at 3:34pm Reply

    Musically excellent but the staging made it little better than a semi-staged concert performance. Did no-one realise how noisy footsteps were on those steps? Spoken text was an interesting idea but too often just broke up the musical and dramatic action
    I won't recommend this staging

  105. Susan Norris responded on 7 March 2018 at 5:54pm Reply

    I am a regular opera-goer in my 50s and have seen several Carmens before. I took a 21 year old and two 19 years olds who had been to one opera before [ENOs Rigoletto]. They had never heard the music before but they absolutely loved this Carmen, and so did I. I had booked after having seen Kosky’s fabulous, crazy Saul at Glyndeborne and was rather dismayed by the reviews on this site and in the papers, but I think it is partly to do with the expectations of the ROH audience - people seem to be wanting to see what they’ve seen before. It’s possible that this would appeal more to a younger audience, and if my focus group of 3 was anything to go by it did.

    We were in the centre of the amphitheatre and didn’t find it too dark or miss any of the action. It’s true the stairs are noisy, but the music was lovely and I found it very interesting to hear the extra pieces which aren’t usually played, at least Inhad never heard them before and i found some of it very beautiful. My young companions also liked the voiceover very much and we startled to hear that it isn’t usually included. I also preferred it to recitative.

    The house was full (one empty box) and people standing all through the second half as well, so I am perplexed by all these references to people leaving.

    Highly recommended as a first Carmen.

  106. Victoria Percy responded on 8 March 2018 at 2:34pm Reply

    Couldn't agree more with those who hated this production. Only time I have left an opera at the interval. Dancers good, but distracting and totally out of context, as was most of the rest. I'd far rather see the film/show Cabaret (fantastic) than this pastiche ineptly wrought into Carmen.
    Poor Bizet!

  107. Geoff responded on 8 March 2018 at 5:23pm Reply

    Just come back here to read through all the comments, as well as the comments on the page for those who went to the live screening.

    Strongly divided opinions on both lists of comments but, as ever, those who disliked the show seem far more capable of providing detailed comments than those who thought it was "wonderful" (which tells one something).

    And there is a notable difference: on this page, there is a majority against, whereas on the cinema page, a majority in favour. Which also says a lot.

    Anyway, reviewing the show I saw a couple of weeks ago now with the benefit of some distance (i) the conductor will be welcomed back, and (ii) I wouldn't mind seeing the mezzo in something else. Nuff said.

  108. Tim Wood-Woolley responded on 9 March 2018 at 9:38am Reply

    Saw Carmen last night and what a woeful, ill-judged and ill-conceived production I thought it was. Some people clearly loved it but I thought it was dire and I hope never to see it again.
    Also, what on earth were the ROH management thinking when they put up the house lights(at least in the Amphitheatre) 20 or so minutes into the performance, to allow late-comers to take their seats?

  109. Geoff Leake responded on 9 March 2018 at 6:06pm Reply


  110. Graham MOORE responded on 10 March 2018 at 9:35am Reply

    Carmen with a twist! A desperate attempt to fill the opera with every stage cliche that could be shoehorned in. Self indulgent direction which obviously saw the opera as a boring base on which to project his own "exciting" persona.

  111. Geoff responded on 10 March 2018 at 12:13pm Reply

    Puzzled that my comment of 8 March is still stuck in moderation?

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 10 March 2018 at 12:25pm

      Thanks Geoff, we try and publish all comments within 24 hours of posting but we've had a very slight backlog due to the number of responses (good and bad!) to Carmen. Your comment is published now.

      Many thanks,


  112. Emilio Di Silvio responded on 10 March 2018 at 3:34pm Reply

    Saw the production of Carmen on the 6th March and I have to say how disappointing it was .
    Starting from the gorilla to the reaction of Carmen after her death of standing and shrugging her shoulders pathetic , The worst performance we have seen and the quality of the singing was poor, How do the ROH expect to get away with this in the future and at the prices they charge. As for the set the staircase ridiculous . To be frank it has put us off for some time in returning . It was no surprise to hear booing and people leaving early !

  113. Darley responded on 10 March 2018 at 9:07pm Reply

    Wow wow and wow - we absolutely loved it - passionate sexy and a stunning performance by everyone in the cast - Carmen was brilliant - but what would we know - not being opera buffs - thank you for a wonderful evening

  114. Philip Thorn responded on 11 March 2018 at 4:53pm Reply

    It takes a special kind of genius to make Carmen a drab, dull and ponderous. Carmen is a celebration of masculinity and femininity full of colour and richness to frame the underlying tragedy. We got black and white dreariness.


  115. Paul Checkley responded on 11 March 2018 at 5:02pm Reply

    Despite good vocals overall a disappointment
    I thought it seemed like an indigence for the director.
    It was not an opera, the narrator was a pain and the set was so minimal it need not have been there.

  116. Charles responded on 11 March 2018 at 6:37pm Reply

    A complete directorial blunder. With such a superb cast & brilliant opera / music / singing, was it really necessary to destroy the story and sense of place for the sake of his indulgences? You won’t see Bizet’s Carmen, what you’ll see is brilliance sacrificed on the altar of a director’s ego & the action constrained by a staircase rather than a set created to serve the plot - that is if you manage to make it to the end without nodding off. You’ll be served a cold, brooding, brechtian stew à la pseudo Argentina / Berlin instead of the passionate heat of Seville. Some great performances spoilt by very poor story telling, crowd direction & gimmics.

  117. Roberta Gallagher responded on 12 March 2018 at 7:34pm Reply

    Hated it - after 10 mins I commented to my friend I do not like this at all - she agreed. The interval seemed a long time in coming in order that we could walk out. Cannot believe the Royal Opera House approved of this to stage it. Not my cup of tea at all - ruined Carmen for me. Felt sorry that all that talent was wasted on such a production. Director obviously trying to do something different - he certainly did that, but not in a good way.

  118. Martin McLeish responded on 14 March 2018 at 10:21am Reply

    Tradings standards/description office should look into this production! "A few tunes from Carmen" would be a more accurate title. Totally hampered by the staging on those ridiculous stairs, the production was inept and the singers never had a chance. The "workshop" version at Wilton's was better - and more honest. Worst production I have seen in 60 years of theatre going, direction, conducting and teaching drama

    • manuel rodríguez responded on 16 March 2018 at 11:32am

      I totally agree, I think that ROH is the best opera house in Europe and they don´t allow this awful. A lot of people do a long way to look for the excellence in this beatiful place.

  119. manuel rodríguez responded on 16 March 2018 at 11:20am Reply

    It was a pitty, the scenery is a stair and Carmen were made like a monkey.
    I am really sorry about this performance but Carmen will live allways. I did not hope this from ROH

  120. ROBERT COCORACCHIO responded on 16 March 2018 at 12:35pm Reply

    I posted a comment on Tuesday 13 March. Any reason why it has not been posted?

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 16 March 2018 at 12:46pm

      Hi Robert,

      With apologies - we have received a lot of comments around Carmen and this one slipped through the net. It is now published.

      Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy the production.

      Many thanks,


  121. Brad Waldron responded on 16 March 2018 at 11:33pm Reply

    Dreadfully painful. The production didn't know what it wanted to be - the noisy basketball seats from high school musical, choreography verging of something adapted from Bob Fosse with no story continuity that tells the story of love and jealousy. A waste of a talented cast.

  122. Attended the production on Friday 16th March. Bought the tickets as a birthday gift for my mother, having seen previous productions of Carmen which was her favourite opera... emphasis on ‘was’. This version however, is far too long, tedious, and has sucked all of the colour out what is usually a vibrant opera. The gorilla suit was bizarre, but the nonchalant ending sealed the mockery that this version of the production is of the original. This was not artistic, it was clearly a nonsensical 3 and a half hour ego trip for the director. Would love to know if there’s a way to get a refund for the tickets.

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 18 March 2018 at 11:12am

      Hi KD,

      Thanks for sharing your comments, and I'm sorry to hear you didn't like the production. I'm afraid we wouldn't offer a refund for the tickets in this case.

      Many thanks,


  123. David Crossman responded on 17 March 2018 at 1:48am Reply

    I saw this production on 16th March. I had read through the comments about it and wasn't quite sure what to expect.

    I have seen more than one ‘traditional’ production of Carmen at ROH. To be honest donkeys and bullfighters can look bit tired after a while as well.

    I was pleasantly suprised at how good this production was.

    Yes it is different, but so what.

    I have seen a few operas where the staging wouldn’t get my vote, but you can still respect the music and singing for it’s own sake. So I really don’t get people who walk out of a production when you have made the effort to come in the first place. I personally didn’t see any on this night.

    I was with my wife and four friends. Some hadn’t seen Carmen at ROH before and we all had slightly different thoughts about this production.

    However, the consenus was that it was an extremely enjoyable evening and we were all generally positive about this production.

    My wife and I both really liked this production and found the time went very quickly.

    Good to see something both different and familiar at the same time. Made a nice change. . Not for everybody, but I don’t complain about the Wagner productions that are on, which I personally dislike.

    Bravo to all the singers, performers, dancers and musicians on the night. (and to all the back stage and production staff who do so much unseen work).

    And I nearly forgot, Eric the cat

  124. Alex E responded on 17 March 2018 at 12:53pm Reply

    Let's leave poor Bizet out of it and rephrase the question, shall we? What did I think of Barrie Kosky's Carmen? My reference point to what I saw yesterday (final performance, 16th of March) is wonderful ROH production of Autumn 2015, with stand-out performances by Anita Rachvelishvili, Alexander Vinogradov and Sonya Yoncheva; as it happens, Andrea Care as Don Jose sang both in 2015 (as a replacement for an indisposed Jonas Kaufmann) and now.

    The Pros:
    1. Andrea Care; my keen interest in his singing remains, and I hope that we will see more of him in not too distant future.
    2. Male voices of ROH chorus were very good.
    3. No Louis the Horse for Escamillo (and for ROH poop patrol) to struggle with.
    The Cons:
    - overall, a ridiculous production, with little respect to both the music and the singers, whom you clearly see struggling to overcome largely artificial obstacles that are put in their way.
    - an attempt to shoehorn an opera into a shape of a variety review is, in itself, not a crime perhaps; however what is criminal is to end up with second-rate operatic experience and a third-rate cheap Cabaret, especially considering that the price of admission is anything BUT cheap.
    - clever as it might be, the staging mostly just doesn't work in practical terms. The staircase, with its unusually high steps, feels like an obstacle course and is very obviously a challenge for those having to run up and down; you look at it and the overwhelming thought in your head is - please do not stumble! The staircase is also noisy, so when people run on it while someone signs - the voices are drowned by the stomping. The long rope as a prop is ridiculous, and the only justification for it seems to be the BDSM-style bondage that Carmen is subjected to (and which she does not seem to mind at all). Carmen's infamous long dress train - yes, it looks great, but can no one see a cloud of dust that raises when they make a wave with it, trying to persuade it to move? The list goes on, and on, and on.
    - the spoken narrative totally ruins the flow of the music and turns a tightly-knit narrative into a series of disconnected sketches. It also deprives singers of interaction on stage and makes a task of building up a character completely impossible; the end result looks like a crude Chinese shadow puppetry.
    - I am very sorry to say this, but, to me, the ROH orchestra was very disappointing on the night; it felt like a barrel-organ full of sawdust - dull, choked and struggling to turn. Is it really the same group of musicians who, under Maestro Bertrand de Billy, managed to produce something truly magical?

    Please no more of this, ROH. Personally, I would rather suffer the histrionics of Louis the Horse!

  125. David Crossman responded on 17 March 2018 at 1:28pm Reply

    Further to my previous comment

    My wife and I have sat and talked about last night’s production for an hour or more this morning. We have both come to the conclusion that this production in our view gets a 5 Star ***** rating.

    I know Gaelle Arquez has performed this role before in Frankfurt etc, but she looked extremely comfortable with this role and this showed on stage.

    The chorus had a vibrance that you don’t see very often and they looked like they were all enjoying themselves.

    Again we agree that this might not be for everyone, but if there were any more productions in this current season we would have come back and seen it again.

    I hope this production is repeated at some point in the future (even for a limited run).

    Because of the negative comments about this production I am sure it may not make it into the DVD library. However, if it does save me a copy because I would love to see this close up.

    We both agreed that having seen traditional productions of Carmen this made it easy to visualise the story and we felt the staging in this production didn’t prevent you from doing this.

    Our final thought on this was that going back and watching a traditonal Carmen is now off the menu, not because of how bad this production was, but because of how GOOD it is.

    NB. I usually do not post comments or reviews for a particular reason which is obvious from the following. If anyone feels they have to comment on my comment I would like point them to the title of this article. ‘ What do YOU think of Bizet’s Carmen ? ‘. Not ‘What do YOU think about other people’s comments on Bizet’s Carmen ? ‘

  126. Esther responded on 17 March 2018 at 3:34pm Reply

    Loved every moment of it!!!!! Remarkable, brave and so refreshing! This production has so many extra layers that makes you think. At the same time it's also really entertaining and definitely generates lots of discussion.
    One of the best opera production I've ever seen at the ROH!

  127. Dal responded on 18 March 2018 at 9:48am Reply

    Dull & boring & far too long. Carmen is my favourite opera it is colourful, vibrant & vibrant & you feel for the main characters. This production was devoid of any colour & emotion. It was 3 and a half hours of lots of disjointed sketches, we didn’t walk out in the hope it would get better, also there were people who hadn’t seen before - they won’t be going again!

  128. Jeannie Poole responded on 20 March 2018 at 5:36pm Reply

    This was a birthday treat for my partner, I hope he'll forgive me, at least we had some decent wine at the interval. I loathed the stage set, how dull, and I was worried that the cast having to run up then down that dreadful staircase, might trip. Dull and boring, down to the monochrome costumes, even the dancing couldn't lift it for me, as I kept closing my eyes to listen to the music, really could have stayed at home. Amazed at the reviews on the site, were we at the same production.?

  129. If you are going to have spoken bits coming from nowhere at least get someone with an interesting voice. Every time she spoke I dreaded the fact that she was going to intervene again; it was both toneless and boring. I saw this production on 10th February but only now have I seen these comments. As in all the years I have been coming to the opera house this was undoubtedly the worst and most pretentious nonsense that has been inflicted on an audience I will let off steam now. I have nothing against directors trying something new on an old favourite but it only works if it is done sympathetically by someone who has some respect for the original; Kosky fails on both counts. Allowing that the foreign language spoken nearest to London is French it was unforgivable that Carmen mangled it so horribly. What was the language coach doing or had she been sent to sleep by the spoken dialogue?

  130. Philip Eaton responded on 24 March 2018 at 8:46pm Reply

    I almost cried when I saw this production. I paid a fortune to treat a close friend to something that I thought she would remember for the rest of her remaining short life. We both hated it and left at the interval. Never have I felt like booing before.
    Imagine my horror therefore (and I doubt anyone will) when I discovered that that it is being revived in the 2018/19 programme. Unbelievable and distressing.

  131. AFRO responded on 4 April 2018 at 11:35pm Reply

    I find it hard to accept, that this appalling egotistical rubbish is being considered for the 2018 / 2019 programme.
    Can you please advise me how to obtain a full refund, as this was the worst 71st Birthday celebration ever.
    By the way, was it difficult to find people from the street to perform in the ROH.

  132. I feel SO SORRY for those who are going to assist this.... thing...

    What happens? not even Saturdays are sold out after weeks for this 2018 Winter +100 tickets for 9 pounds not even sold... yet the ROH trying with marketing emails saying "unforgettable production"... that could not be truer... unforgettable indeed

    There will always be Koskies out there... why to hire them x3 times for the ROH, READ THE COMMENTS AND WAKE UP, cancel this junk performance and never get anything from this guy again as your reputation is on sale... pfff... disgraceful attitude from the ROH with London, the UK, Earth, The Milky Way, further galaxies and REAL opera lovers.

    Shame on you repeating this even more than once.

    Gosh, will have to see again Lucia di Lammermoor from Teatro Real Madrid with Lisette Oropesa to push out of my mind this terrible musical-gorilla-joke

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