27 April 2016
Reviewed by Judith Holliday
The Alhambra Theatre in Bradford proved a fitting venue for a lively and exuberant performance of Bizet’s Carmen produced and directed by Ellen Kent. Ellen Kent has a formidable reputation in supplying opera and ballet in the UK over the last 24 years and her experience brought to the audience a very enjoyable production.
The theatre is in the very centre of Bradford, easily accessible by public transport or car – with NCP car parking available nearby at a reduced rate for theatre goers. There is a restaurant open from 5pm and a bar for pre theatre or interval drinks. The auditorium itself benefited from a 1980s refurbishment of the original theatre which opened in 1914. The venue seats 1,400 people and hosts a wide range of productions.
This was the first time I had seen Carmen, set in Spain and telling the story of gypsy Carmen, but much of the music was very familiar and recognisable. The power of the voices of the cast was very impressive and captivating to listen to. In particular the four lead roles played by Liza Kadelnik (Carmen), Vitalii Liskovetskiy (Don Jose), Lurie Gisca (Escamillo) and Maria Tonina (Micaela) were beautifully sung. The lyrics were in French but subtitles hung above the stage throughout the show to help with understanding. For me, the roles of Carmen and Micaela were well played – Carmen’s provocative, sultry sexiness, Micaela’s innocent and virtuous character were thoroughly convincing. Despite Vitalii Liskovetskiy and Lurie Gisca’s very accomplished signing, their depiction of the characters wasn’t quite what I had expected, neither of them quite convincing me that Carmen would have been lustily attracted to them.
The performance was divided over four acts with two intervals and a total running time of around 3 hours 16 minutes.
A great talking point of the show was the inclusion of a real donkey in some scenes and a beautiful ‘dancing’ white horse, Caspian who has been appearing in Ellen Kent productions since 2013. They added some fun to the production and there were several gasps of surprise and appreciation from the audience when they appeared. Caspian had a well-choreographed routine and both were very well behaved!
If you are not very familiar with opera I would suggest that this production of Carmen would be an excellent starting point, particularly with sub titles to follow. The plot was easy to follow, the characters are interesting, the music beautiful and recognisable and the atmosphere of the Spanish setting was well imagined through the impressive set and beautiful costumes. If you are already an opera fan then the production would be sure entertain.
For more details and tour dates of Ellen Kent productions visit www.ellenkent.com.
For other shows at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford visit www.bradford-theatres.co.uk.
Alhambra Theatre, Morley Street, Bradford, BD7 1AJ | 01274 432000