Sunday, May 06, 2007

Review: Shreveport Opera's Carmen carnivorous; consumes male leads with a smile upon her red lips

Shreveport Opera
Originally uploaded by trudeau.
Shreveport, you would have to say, loves opera. Riverview Theater, a 1700-seat hall, was utterly filled with patrons on Saturday night, May 5.

With only 3 opera performances a year, Shreveport probably spends more time coming together over fund raising events than over stage productions. But Shreveport Opera does more than make parties and big shows. Having enjoyed performances by the young professional singers in Shreveport Opera Express at both the Revel and in schools, I can attest to the opera consciousness-raising created by Eric Dilner and his board.

Carmen presented the sexy side of the standard repertoire. There were the craven cigarette factory girls, the Act I cat fight and the leading lady's cleavage; all worked to emphasize the story's hot blood.

But the male leads weren't as macho as Carmen.

Played by the phosphorescent Cristina Nassif, this Carmen roamed the stage with cutting eyes and rapacious smile. And her voice was almost as commanding as her body language.

Don Jose, the ill-fated lover, was sung with powerful voice by Don Snyder. He is a tall fellow with commanding stage presence. But the joy of sex was missing from his face in Acts I and II.

Likewise, when another capable male singer hit the boards in Act II - the toreador Escamillo, played by Mark Walters - I did not sense excitement or danger. Competence, yes. Frisson, no.

There were a number of vibacious singers onstage. Kirsten Chambers and Christina Hager were sidekicks to Carmen. They sang with poumons and dashed about expertly. Kenneth Weber brought the rogue El Dancairo to life. And Horace English invested the basso Zuniga with strength as well as a sense of humor.

When we finished the second intermission, some 2 hours into the production, we found there was another intermission and an hour's more work to be done to reach the murderous climax.

If the male leads or the towering sets caught fire, we missed it.

For an alternative viewpoint, and by a writer who probably stayed for the entire 3 hours, see Alex Kent's Times review.

No comments: