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  Carmen Reviews
Lyric Opera

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
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Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

"...A co-production with the Houston Grand Opera, "Carmen" (with its fine libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Helevy based on a Prosper Merimee novel) has been stunningly directed and choreographed by Broadway veteran Rob Ashford. If his 2015 production of "Carousel" for the Lyric was oddly frustrating, his "Carmen" is wholly satisfying and intriguingly modern in the most unforced ways, with David Rockwell's handsome sets, Donald Holder's fiery lighting and Julie Weiss' costumes adding to the overall feel. And Ashford's roots as a choreographer are gorgeously visible at every turn, including the introduction of a dancer in a Picasso-like bull's mask (Judson Emery) who threads his way through the story and suggests the many victims of Carmen's unapologetically wild, impulsive ways."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader- Somewhat Recommended

"...Mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova as Carmen (nearly erased in all-black garb) and tenor Joseph Calleja as her obsessed lover, Jose, aren't able to generate much chemistry amid this distracting staging by director Rob Ashford, but they're scheduled to be replaced midrun. Soprano Eleonora Buratto, who brings a gorgeous voice and winning performance to the part of the "good girl," Micaela, stays on."
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Deanna Isaacs

Chicago On the Aisle- Highly Recommended

"...Rachvelishvili is a torrid Carmen richly and famously experienced in the role.That heat comes not only from her brash physicality, but even more fundamentally from the dark allure and arresting grandeur of her voice. Her "Habanera" was mesmerizing - at once majestic and carelessly teasing. Rachvelishvili's Carmen is not merely a temptress, she's an authentic free spirit who embodies the words of that seductive self-portrait: "If you don't love me, then I will love you; but if I love you, beware!""
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema- Recommended

"...Director and choreographer Rob Ashford brings a welcome dash of creativity to Carmen, above all, by the incorporation of ballet, not just in the gypsy scenes, but in the bullfighting scenes also. These bullfight dances function on many levels, literally representing Escamillo's bullfight, ominously foreshadowing Carmen's death, and perhaps even mirroring other conflicts, such as the fight between Escamillo and Don Jose or between Don Jose and Carmen. A lighter touch is the substitution of children's choruses for adult choruses in the opening and closing acts."
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Barnaby Hughes

ChicagoCritic- Highly Recommended

"...From the opening, this production of Carmen grabs us and takes us on a melodic journey with a remarkable woman utilizing the grand music of Georges Bizet. Carmen can still thrill opera patrons as well as reinvigorate its fans. Kudos to the Lyric opera of Chicago for offering such a fine production."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Stage Standard- Highly Recommended

"...The Lyric Opera presents a show stopping and exhilarating production of the ever popular production of Georges Bizetís Carmen. A spectacle of singing, dancing, fighting and more keep the three hour show moving at a quick pace. The opera is presented in five acts in French but an English translation is presented. Having never seen Carmen before, I was surprised at how many of the songs I recognized that are now in mainstream culture."

Sarah Frye

Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...Each year from February to March, the Lyric Opera performs an extended run of a highly popular opera that is likely to serve as a good entry point for new fans, and Carmen is perhaps the work best suited for that slot. Georges Bizet's 1875 masterpiece not only contains some of the world's most recognizable music; it is also a compelling story from a time when theatre was transitioning from paint-by-numbers melodramas into a medium for social commentators. Broadway director and choreographer Rob Ashford imbues this new-to-Chicago production with very strong ideas which he executes with varying levels of success, but which clearly communicate the gendered violence and repression fueling this tragedy."
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Jacob Davis

NewCity Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...Conductor Harry Bicket keeps the orchestral support and commentary crisp and bright (when not foreboding) and Ashford's dancers are always an athletic delight. No doubt in answer to Picasso, Donald Holder's lighting seems crafted to assist the audience in viewing the piece through a gauze of graphite, which, while satisfyingly atmospheric, makes it difficult at times to make out the principal's facial expressions. Julie Weiss' costumes, undoubtedly authentic to the period, give us the second Lyric production in a row with dresses that flattered almost no one; "Carmen" without the flounce and the bounce."
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Aaron Hunt

Picture This Post- Recommended

"...If your love of opera is driven by mainly music, how could Carmen possibly disappoint? As Jesse Gram, the most engaging Lyric Unlimited pre-performance lecturer we've heard to date, commented, "...'To be or not to be...', "...Rosebud..'..and then 'L'amour et un oiseau rebel..' and the March of the Toreador..". There are few cultural offerings that are so easily recognizable by a mere phrase, and Carmen, of all operas, makes the mark the most. Piccolo preludes to the children entering, English horn recounting the five chords of fate that presage Carmen's end, and more-the music is so delightful that Lyric or any opera company just can't go wrong."
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Amy Munice