Wonderful to be back from Karlsruhe, Germany. Tired, happy... tired.
So Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe invited three famous artists for their CARMEN (May 24, 2008): José Cura as Don José, Denyce Graves as Carmen and Jacques Delacôte as the conductor. So naturally I had to come, especially since it was also a Saturday, no need to use part of my holidays from work. LOVELY.
As "always" the trip started with the 7 hours long bus ride in the night to Oslo, arriving in Oslo Bus Terminal at 0525. And I am not normally an early bird but I am often lucky enough to sleep on the bus, and so I was reasonable awake... Then I just took the airport bus to the Airport Gardermoen (OSL). 45 minutes ride.
Everything went as planned:
0935-1145 LH6231 Oslo-FrankfurtWow, was I confused when I arrived at Frankfurt airport but luckily I found my way to the train station on the airport. I had bought my flight tickets on www.wideroe.no and Deutsche Bahn's website to find out how to get from Frankfurt Airport to Karlsruhe. I almost took an earlier train to Karlsruhe (via Mannheim) but it was so crowded. I decided to wait. As always I used HRS.de to book my hotel, Hotel Blankenburg. I liked this hotel. Great!
1354-1459 ICE 507 Frankfurt Airport-Karlsruhe
What was not that great was that I had forgotten my camera at home. That was bad!! Saturday, part 1: searching and thinking about buying a new camera. I found a camera in Oslo Airport for NOK 2299 or 2799 (Fujifilm F50 or F100), did not buy it there, I looked at the shop in Frankfurt Airport (no Fujifilm, no buy) and in Karlsruhe I found a wonderful place called Ettinger Tor, a lot of shops together, but still I did not buy. I used my mobile phone, poor NOKIA 6630.
"Non, tu ne m'aimes pas" (Carmen, Karlsruhe 24.5.08)
I was looking forward to a tradional CARMEN with the same sensational people that I had enjoyed in 2004 in London as Samson et Dalila (José Cura and Denyce Graves) and conducted by the great Jacques Delacôte. But I must admit that by the time that Cura had sung a wonderful Flower song and Denyce Graves was responding with "Non, tu ne m'aimes pas" that I knew what I was going to called the review of this Carmen. Yes, Carmen or Denyce Graves I do not love your voice anymore. It makes me sad!!! Already at the Habanera I thought, what have happened with the wonderful full mezzo voice, Denyce two voices appeared, one of a grown woman and the voice of a small and whiny child. Then my hopes was for the Seguedilla, but the same thing happened, but the Card Aria in act 3 was wonderful. So SAD... But hopefully this is just temporary problem... Of course, 2nd act of Carmen is a bit like Samson et Dalila, I even fantasized this Carmen being morphed into a SAMSON ET DALILA where Denyce Graves would have no vocal problems at all. And as a Baltsa fan I must admit I wanted Agnes Baltsa to come and rescue this Carmen, even if one at this stage of AB's career can hear that she is over 60.
DENYCE GRAVES was despite her vocal state, a wonderful Carmen, she can act and she can dance. And she was celebrated in Karlsruhe. JOSE CURA was wonderful as Don José. His only problem, and that was the whole ensembles problem; the French dialogue. It was hard to hear, the pronunciation was not all that good by all singers. And the dialogue was cut shorter which really did not help that much. As if one got instead of thought got half thought. The dialogue was such a pain that I wanted the sung recitative (and I normally "hate" that one).
The Escamillo was great as an actor but as a singer so much volume was missing and he was too light in voice. Nice, cute, good-looking, yes.... But I missed a voice, big and with resonance (like Ruggero Raimondi in the opera film by Rosi). Micaela was wonderful in the duet with Don José and OK in her big aria.
Last act. We are in the matador's room, we see Escamillo pray the Prayer all matador pray before the corrida, he was dressed up by his men. Of course he walked into the room with Carmen. The duettino (Si tu m'aimes, Carmen) and the when Escamillo walks out to the corrida, Frasquita and Mercedes come to warn Carmen about Don José. It is all in the room, José and Carmen meets again, he pleads and then he kills. Escamillo has finished his job at the corrida, and does not see Carmen is killed, he is too busy with Frasquita and Mercedes. Fine man, that Escamillo!! Mercedes sees and finally Escamillo... (what? a slight shock) while Don José is all finished and asked to be arrested, he has killed his love, his Carmen.
The Production was OK. Modernized. But the men were all creeps and the women was nothing worth. And the Gypsies smuggled cocaine. Is it modern to be so negative... or is it just CARMEN?
Signierstunde after the opera with José Cura, Denyce Graves and Jacques Delacôte. And I had just a mobile phone. In the end I was the last to get to take a photo of José, he was tired as you can see, and as you can also judge a mobile camera is no competition to a real camera. but still....
And then we all went to our hotels, a bunch of us JCx members went to Hotel Blankenburg and enjoyed a drink and the company.
And Sunday we all went separate ways, by train, flight and car. I took the train back to Frankfurt Airport and the flight to Oslo Gardermoen (OSL). But this time no night bus back home, a flight back home. The one flight in Norway costed ca. 75 percent of the two-way flight Oslo-Frankfurt. But 7 hours by bus in the night is tiresome. So no regrets....
Home 1845 on Sunday 25.
I am content....
For more reviews from my travels, see www.operaduetstravel.com