Thursday, July 12, 2018

"Carmen" by Mill City Summer Opera at Mill City Museum Ruins Courtyard

A review in brief of the final dress rehearsal of Mill City Summer Opera's Carmen, before a brief rain delay (which I hereby declare shall forevermore be referred to as a raintermission) turned into a cancellation of the performance, midway through Act II of IV:
  • There's nothing quite like sitting outdoors in a beautiful setting listing to a chorus of amazing singers accompanied by an orchestra of amazing musicians, watching them tell a story with energy and passion despite the oppressive heat.
  • I'm amazed at the ability of the musicians in the 20+ piece orchestra to keep their instruments in tune in the ever-changing Minnesota summer weather, and because I'm a former band geek who loves the sound of an orchestra tuning, I enjoyed the mid-act tuning break.
  • Even though I've only seen Carmen once (a 90-minute English language adaptation performed by Skylark Opera Theatre), and never listened to a recording, the music is so familiar. It's such a popular opera that the music has become part of our culture, whether we're aware of it or not. And it really is a gorgeous score (do they call it a score in opera?), gorgeously played by the orchestra, sitting on scaffodling to the right of the stage, under the direction of Brian DeMaris.
  • An hour of opera is about the right length for me, and I'm not at all mad that Carmen's story ended last night before this "evil seductress" was murdered by her jealous spurned lover (143-year-old spoiler alert!), so that I can think of her as always being as alive as she is at the beginning of the opera.
  • Speaking of Carmen, Audrey Babcock gives a fierce and fabulous performance as the title character, casting a spell over everyone in the courtyard.
  • How many people does it take to fill in for a tenor? Two women and two men, apparently. Adam Diegel, who plays Don Jose, was out last night due to illness so director Fenlon Lamb "walked" (and very convincingly acted) the role, a woman sang the role from the orchestra, and two fight choreographers were scheduled to fill in for the fight scenes, which never happened because of the rain. The show must go on! (Unless it rains.)
  • The flamenco dancing is fantastic!
  • We were not given programs, presumably because it was a dress rehearsal, but I was happy to recognize a few #TCTheater faves among the large and talented ensemble, including Benjamin Dutcher, Eric Morris, Jennifer Eckes, and Lara Trujillo.
  • As hot as I was sitting in the audience with near 90 temps and high humidity, not a breeze to be felt, the people on stage were much hotter in their layers of period clothing, under the lights, singing and performing at full force, seemingly oblivious to the sweat pouring out of them.
  • Why are people in Spain singing and speaking in French? Opera be crazy!
  • Carmen opens this Friday for seven performances, all of which are sold out.
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