In introducing Carmen, director and conductor Peter Knapp states that the aims of his adaptation of Georges Bizet’s opéra comique is to take a classic; re-write it, and hope that it appeals to a wider audience. Knapp’s efforts to recreate the opera in English are not wasted. Impact Opera’s production of Carmen is nothing short of a work of art that integrates the subtleties and intricacies of character, seen in Prosper Mérimée’s novella, as well as exhuming the energy, vibrancy and passion of Bizet’s original opera score.
Enchanted by the unattainable femme fatale gypsy, Carmen, Daniel Hoadley’s portrayal of Don José skilfully weaves in the Don’s woeful ignorance of Carmen’s fiery and volatile love, as well as evocating an inexplicable lusting that eventually sends the Don close to insane. Hoadley superbly and expertly executes the inner torments of Carmen’s design through a powerful array of spine-tingling opera, and a stage performance that manages to express a man’s desperate, futile attempts to rationalise the untameable and irrational Carmen.
Amie Clapson is a stunning success as the self-serving and wild Carmen, whose charm and bewitchery ensure that the men of Seville find themselves dominated by the petite Clapson, a voice which rules supreme over the auditorium and demands the audience even fall for her charm. Clapson’s pitch-perfect soprano voice dances between taunting Don José whilst imprisoned by him, and then powerfully moves to expressing the pain and restrictiveness of a monogamous relationship with Don José. Clapson’s versatility as a singer ensures that her portrayal of the capricious Carmen is masterful.
The supporting cast should not go unmentioned; incredibly talented, at times they almost steal the attention away from Carmen and Don José’s romance, particularly Amaia Azcona Cildoz playing Micaela, the orthodox forgotten flame of José, and Melanie Long, whose mezzo-soprano voice goes beyond expectation and already sky-high standards.
Impact Opera’s production of Carmen is a spectacular tour de force, brilliantly entertaining and engaging. Minor technical difficulties that speckled the perfection of the production can be forgiven, in what is most certainly a first-class performance. Knapp’s idea to reconstruct the opera in English is innovative and commendable.