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Carmen/ Glyndebourne

In the 10 years since I have been going regularly to Glyndebourne, first as an associate member and now a full one, the place, experience and productions have all changed significantly.

The most significant change is the relaxation of the dress code: one visitor for Carmen last Wednesday was dressed in jeans and a peaky blinder cap.

Many women wore modern dress rather than the traditional flowery full length robe.

By no means were all men dressed in black tie. I was not.

Productions have changed too.

Some have complained that the singing has deteriorated but certainly the theatricality has improved.

Others moan that it has become “woke”.

Rihab Chaieb‘s Carmen was sexually provocative. Yes, she was a victim but also ensnared Don José and others with her wiles.

Sadly, that one variable – the weather – did not consummate an otherwise enjoyable, indeed exhilarating, evening.

It was perishingly cold and rainy so we had to picnic under a canopy in the garden.

The arias and music in Carmen carry you along even if the recitative can be a tad tedious.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted, not by Robin Ticciati as advertised, but Anya Bihlmaier were more than impressive accompaniment.

Leaving the auditorium you could hear and sense that the audience had enjoyed themselves.

Twelve films and some ballets have been made of the Carmen story, originally by the French author Prosper Merimée.

This production got it right.

Carmen dominated the stage – a forceful, imposing character. The toreador was played by a body builder.

Remember Bizet’s Carmen is billed as a comedy although the reality is much darker and more tragic.

Glyndebourne has upped its game.

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About Michael Stuart

After university, Michael spent twelve years working for MELODY MAKER before going freelance. He claims to keep doing it because it is all he knows. More Posts