Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

MUSIC AND OPERA REVIEWS : Bel Canto Opera Stages 'Carmen'

March 29, 1993|LEWIS SEGAL

Shoestring opera on a shoebox stage doesn't often offer the kind of expert orchestral playing that conductor Mark Hilt and his 36 musicians produced for the Bel Canto Opera Company staging of "Carmen," Saturday night in John Adams Auditorium, Santa Monica.

Leading a brisk, taut and idiomatic performance of Bizet's score, Hilt also minimized the inevitable vocal incapacities of a highly variable cast. With his hollow tone, chancy high notes and inaudible low ones, David Kenosian proved the chief liability of the performance as Escamillo.

However, apart from squally patches here and there, Mary Lou Basaraba sang Micaela artfully and gave the character more spirit than many sopranos can manage. With his wiry tone that thinned on top, Cuban tenor Gabriel Reoyo-Pazos couldn't make his Don Jose a purely vocal success, but he compensated through unstinting intensity and enough acting skill to create a credible portrait.

In the title role, Linda Frisch-Jarvis commanded lush, untiring vocal resources placed at the service of considerable intelligence and a sense of style. You might question some of her ideas about phrasing in the Habanera, but a more crucial issue kept her below her full potential: You just couldn't believe she ever felt any emotion for Jose beyond low-key vexation--until "Frappe-moi donc!"

Against an assortment of cutout archways and boulders, director Bill di Donato kept the cast lined up on the forestage singing right at the appreciative, capacity audience.

No supertitles, no reliable French pronunciation from many of the participants, no troop of street urchins and no visible smoke for the "La fumee" chorus. The third venture by a company formed in 1991, this "Carmen" is scheduled for repeat Saturday.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|