In a concert performance at the Wadsworth Theater on Saturday, the Marina del Rey/Westchester Symphony rescued Bizet's "Carmen" from the distortions imposed by recent film, flamenco and sandbox-theater adaptations.
Lyrical, leisurely, with scrupulous concern for orchestral balance and detail, Frank Fetta's conducting reconnected "Carmen" to its proper stylistic milieu: 19th-Century French opera. No sweaty modernism, no false drama, no rushed tempi, no bloated sonorities.
Fetta, the orchestra, chorus (from the Opera Theatre of the Inland Empire and Musart Singers) and many of the principal singers had ventured "Carmen" under similar conditions at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre four years ago.
Instrumental and choral forces again nearly filled the stage, leaving the soloists singing at the very front, behind Fetta's back. Consequently, coordination suffered, especially in the "Chanson boheme."