d’Oustrac’s brilliant Carmen provides the highlights at Dallas Opera

10.20.18
Emmanuel Villaume
Texas Classical Review

Dallas Opera’s Carmen proved to be a winning marriage of visual drama, the human voice, and the orchestra—a nearly perfect presentation of Bizet’s timeless tale of erotic obsession.

Even in the opening phrases of the Overture Friday night at the Winspear Opera House, conductor Emmanuel Villaume’s command of the nuance and unique musical language of Bizet signaled an outstanding performance in the making. Villaume made the orchestra “sing” with the inflections of the French language, while meticulously exploring Bizet’s subtle counterpoint and instrumental colors. 

Throughout, the orchestra played its part magnificently, underlining emotions of the characters and often emerging as a sort of Greek chorus, commenting on the profound sequence of events on the stage. The famous entr’acte before Act III, with its naked introduction for flute and harp, was particularly hypnotic, evoking the barren wilderness.

Mezzo-soprano Stéphanie d’Oustrac sang the title role with a gorgeous, multi-faceted voice, ranging from dusky and dark to pristine clarity. (Among other dramatic and vocal tricks, she delivered her opening aria, “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle,” while apparently eating an orange.)
 
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