True spectacle as Robert Carsen’s Carmen is revived at Dutch National Opera

By Rose Dodd, 11 September 2022

Walking into the auditorium for Dutch National Opera’s revival of Robert Carsen’s 2009 production of Carmen there was much bustling as people claimed their seats. Glancing towards the stage gave the appearance of ‘theatre in the round’ with a wall of red plastic seating where other audience members seemed to be taking their seats. But this was not so. On closer inspection the staged audience was uniformly dressed in pastel 1950s-style costumes, with men wearing the same cloth caps. They too were waiting as keenly as us for Carmen to begin. This was the first unseating of us as a conventional opera audience attending a conventional performance. Let the game begin. 

. . . . Under Jordan de Souza’s baton the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra created sweet and lyrical moments of tenderness. Choreographed direction of both the Dutch National Opera Chorus and New Amsterdam Children’s Choir was both fun and precisely characterised, adding to a wholly persuasive textured rendition – a wondrous spectacle, a starkly innovative approach – of one of the most notorious operas in the repertoire. 

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