Tenor Roberto de Biasio also got off to a weak start but improved vocally in the second act. He produced a fine messa di voce. However, his acting was stiff until he reached places where he was given over to violence. Baritone Kostas Smoriginas struggled to achieve some dignity and the arrogance the role requires; the direction was not kind to him, what with that mechanical bull and having to hold a microphone onstage and gyrate like Elvis Presley.
We liked Joyce El-Khoury's performance as Micaela; she has an expressive soprano and managed to evoke sympathy which the other principals did not. Her duet with Don Jose was tender and their hands reaching out toward one another was perhaps the most moving moment of the evening.
The smaller roles were more effective. Bass-baritone Evan Hughes was outstanding as Zuniga, using his booming voice, imposing height and dramatic skills to create a more interesting character than we are accustomed to. He too has his eye on Carmen and, by the time his pants are around his ankles in her prison cell, she has escaped.
Baritone Ricardo Rivera was a strong Morales, also making much of a role that usually makes no impression.
We liked baritone Dan Kempson as Le Dancaire and tenor Noah Baetge as Le Remendado, the two smugglers. It was amusing to watch their interaction with Carmen's two friends Frasquita (soprano Amanda Opuszynski) and Mercedes (mezzo-soprano Sarah Larsen). Grant Neale made a slimy Lillas Pastia.
Before ending. we would like to contribute this factoid. In Mexican bullfights, they do not kill the bull.
(c) meche kroop