Director - Sam Quested
Musical Director - Alex Clements
Carmen - Alison Carter
Micaela - Helen Clutterbuck
Frasquita - Daniella Gambier
Mercedes - Kathleen Brenner
Don Jose - Dan Hickson
Escamillo - Peter Barber
Le Dancaire - Adrian Hickford
Le Remendado - Simon Meanwell-Ralph
Zuniga - Alan Morgan
Morales - Colin Paice
Inn keeper - Stephen Gleed
Ladies chorus - Jan Baerselman, Anne Croudass, Anne McDonald, Lorraine Morgan, Emily Petley-Jones, Emma-Jane Smith, Denise Truscott, Charlotte Upfold, Lucy Whiteman, Izzy Wylde
Men's chorus - Chris Gleed, Stephen Gleed, Adrian Hickford, Graham Light, Simon Meanwell-Ralph, Hamish McDonald, Barry McGonagle, Alan Morgan, Colin Paice
Multiple Sclerosis Society
Georges Bizet’s Carmen is one of the world’s best-loved and most performed operas. Hugely controversial when it opened in 1875, Brahms was apparently so enamoured that he is reputed to have seen it no less than twenty times in its first year.
Whilst I can’t claim to have seen it as many times as Brahms, Carmen remains one of my favourite operas and the Winchester Musicals and Opera Society version, directed by Sam Quested, didn’t disappoint. The scene was set with atmospheric staging and a revolving section perfectly showcased the languid entrance of the cigarette factory women. Touches such as a giant glowing cigar and a vast half moon made for effective scene changes.
The Chorus, who variously played cigarette girls, gypsies, smugglers and soldiers, kicked off the show with an energy and confidence that was maintained throughout the evening. The orchestra, directed by Teddy Clements, coped well with a reduced orchestration of Bizet’s sensuous and familiar melodies.
But it was Alison Carter as Carmen who drew the eye from the moment she appeared on stage and whose soaring vocals ensured that that focus never dimmed.
Dan Hickson’s Don Jose grew in confidence as the evening progressed and as he became increasingly maddened by Carmen. Their final duet was charged with emotion and menace.
Helen Clutterbuck played Micaela with touching poignancy, while strong performances by Daniella Gambier as Frasquita and Kathleen Brenner as Mercedes ensured that both the Card Song and the Inn scene quintet were highlights.
The grit and darkness of the performance was lightened by Peter Barber who played Toreador Escamillo with humour and great enjoyment.
Performed in English and with spoken recitative, which gave it the feel of a musical, this talented cast, nevertheless, did full justice to Bizet’s well-loved score and the singing of both principals and chorus was outstanding.