Review "CARMEN": Party Girl Makes The Party!

Lyric Opera of Chicago presents



In the Ardis Krainik Theatre, 20 N. Wacker

Composed by Georges Bizet

Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy

Based on the novella “Carmen” by Prosper Merimee

Performed in French in Four Acts
Projected English titles by Francis Rizzo
Conducted by Alain Altinoglu
Stage directed by Harry Silverstein

Remaining performances on October 20th, 22nd, 25th, 29th

New principals for March 12th, 15th, 18th, 24th, 27th
Buy Tickets
Running Time:  Three hours and forty-five minutes includes two (fifteen minute) intermissions


Reviewed by Katy Walsh


A beautiful woman seduces a man in to breaking the law, deserting the army and loving only her with an all-consuming passion… for exactly six months.  In this original ‘Fatal Attraction’ flipped, it’s the dumped guy obsessed with revenge.  Lyric Opera of Chicago presents CARMEN, an opera comique sung in French with English projected titles.  Don Jose loves Micaela.  She’s a nice hometown girl and his mother likes her too.  He’s been assigned guard duty at the tobacco factory.  His life is good!  Cue fate!  Carmen works at the factory.   There is a big party this weekend and she needs a plus one.  She can have any man in the village.  She chooses Jose.  His resistance isn’t lust-proof.  Her wish is his command and Carmen has a lot of wishes.  Jose loses it!  All of it… his heart, honor, and eventually his soul!  Carmen is opera’s notorious party girl.  CARMEN is opera’s notorious party where the lively music makes the beat go on long after the finale.    


From the first few notes, even the novice opera goer will recognize the CARMEN soundtrack.  Before the curtain rises, Conductor Alain Altinoglu provides an amusing show with high-impact aerobic baton movement.  His energetic approach zips the animated score along.  The residual effects continue to play in your head long after the orchestra stops.  In the lead, Katharine Goeldner (Carmen) bewitches with a feisty fire.  She sings the familiar ‘L’amour est unoiseau rebelle’ with more girls-just-want-to-have-fun than mean-spirited Jezebel.  Goeldner’s manipulates Yonghoon Lee (Jose) with spoiled gypsy tantrums.  Making his Lyric Opera debut, Lee seduces too!  The audience falls hard for him and a soulful ‘La fleur que tu m’avais jetee.’  Lee sings magnificently emotionally understated as his love for a woman increases his hate for himself.   Carmen’s not the kind of girl you bring home to mother… that would be Micaela (Elaine Alvarez).  Despite being rejected by Jose, Alvarez has two stunning arias in the first and third acts infatuating the audience into ‘brava’ proclamations.  Alvarez may have been kissed off by Jose but she still gets a lot of loving in this production.  Onstage and offstage, Kyle Ketelsen (Escamillo) has adoring fans.  Ketelsen sings the Toreador Song with zesty arrogance.   He’s not afraid of a little bull which makes him ideal as Carmen’s next love target.        


This season, the Lyric Opera is offering two productions of CARMEN in October and March.  CARMEN is the perfect show for a newbie to the opera.  Georges Bizet composed a score with pulsating rhythms that are unforgettably stately.  But the hook for future opera lovers is that CARMEN will sound familiar.  Bizet’s composition has been on soundtracks for commercials, movies, cartoons and television, including; Gilligan’s Island.  For those having not yet experienced the majesty of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, CARMEN is a great starter opera.  With a familiar and vigorous tempo, the score remains upbeat and festive for the nearly four hour gathering.  The set, although not new, is impressively intricate and enormous.  Add in avibrantly costumed cast of 100+, including the Chicago Children’s Choir, the visual is a dazzling spectacle!  CARMEN is THAT party with THAT party girl THAT you want to be plus one for!


Experiencing the Lyric for the second time, Nancy describes the show with “vibrant, intense, amplify.”


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