Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Georg Solti & Tatiana Troyanos in Bizet’s Carmen

Opera Carmen, last and undeniably the best work composed by Georges Bizet, occupies special place among romantic works and in whole opera repertoire. This work has such great number of advantages, it is hard to control by listeners or by performing artists. Thus Carmen in almost every rendition sounds fresh, sometimes surprising and always exerts a great influence on the emotions of the audience. It is also one of very few operas so difficult to shorten or reduce to assortment of arias and scenes. In fact whole Bizet’s opera can be seen as cycle of favorite scenes, and every fragment is full of musical ideas and coruscating with dramatic imaginary. Every scene, duo, aria or ensemble is like number one in opera hits ranking. The same quality of perfectly composed unity of great moments characterizes the whole work.
There a many great performances and recordings of Carmen and sometimes it is really hard to point the better one. And it is either not the question of quality, or the esthetical paradigm. People are constantly changing and so their systems of value. One moment we appreciate a heroine of subtle and chimerical, while the other we look for strong and firmly consequent woman. One time we need more actress performance, while in the next performance we are astonishing by the beautiful voice. This is why we are unable to point one and the best performance, even when our sympathies speak for themselves. One of best and often pointed by emotions is performance under the baton of Sir Georg Solti recorded July 1975 in London, in Henry Wood Hall for Decca. This performance has been published as complete set of records in 1976 (London Records OSA 13115) and in 1977 as one LP choice of Great Scenes & Arias (Decca SET 621).

Tatiana Troyanos as Carmen (1977)

Carmen is always featured role, so without any doubts name of singer playing Carmen should be the first in the program, and it is not surprising, the star of this rendition is Tatiana Troyanos. There are many listeners acknowledging this recording as legendary one and best from any point of view. There is also a bunch of great performances of other frontline characters. Don José is played by Placido Domingo who was gaining the fame of great dramatic tenor at the time. Micaela was sung by Kiri Te Kanawa who was one of most appreciated lyric sopranos for more than next two decades. José van Dam sings famous role of Escamillo and his triumphant entrance is as much musical as much suggestive. Highest level of professional efficiency under direction of Sir Georg Solti has been achieved in powerful performance by London Philharmonic Orchestra and great work of John Alldis Choir. Although this is not a rule, you may find that for the artist of this format is more natural to leave wider interpretation margin for the soloists.
Tatiana Troyanos appeared as Carmen and this was one of most perfectly sung and persuasively played role of this femme fatale ever. Her deep chest voice gave Carmen the kind of sound that can convince how much sensual and experienced woman she is. She knows what she needs, and she knows how to achieve it. In fragments where Carmen is haunted by emotions, she sounds brightly, singing in head voice register with perfectly light vibrato. In such moments she sounds like a girl. Unforgettable duets Troyanos-Domingo are dynamically changing along with developing storyline. They are cautious at the beginning, and gradually their relations are more and more passionately, ardent and dramatically dangerous in their difference. All emotions clearly displayed and shaped with profoundly musical sense. Absolutely five-star performance.

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