On the first Sunday of each month, KDFC – the Bay Area’s listener-supported classical music radio station, features a live recording of a performance by the San Francisco Opera. July’s production is Bizet’s ever-popular ‘Carmen’, a performance which was recorded in November 2011 at the War Memorial Opera House, under the baton of Music Director Nicola Luisotti.
Bizet’s four-act opera, with a libretto by Henri Mailhac and Ludovic Halévy, was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris in March 1875. It was not particularly well received – most of the reviews were in fact critical, and the French public was somewhat indifferent to it. After a series of performances outside Paris, however, it returned to the capital in 1883, and subsequently, as we know, became hugely popular both in France and abroad. Tragically, Bizet had died suddenly during the opera’s first run in Paris, and he never lived to enjoy the success of this work.
Mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili sings the role of Carmen, in her first performance with the San Francisco Opera. Originally from Tbilisi, in Georgia, Ms Rachvelishvili is no stranger to one of opera’s most vivacious, capricious and captivating characters. She has sung Carmen at La Scala in Milan, at Munich’s Bavarian State Opera, the Berlin State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Canadian Opera Company, the Arena di Verona, Seattle Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, where, according to the New York Times, her performance ‘ brought an ample, earthy voice and sensual lyricism to her performance, winning a hearty ovation’.
In Sunday’s performance of ‘Carmen’, the role of Don José is sung by Brazilian tenor, Thiago Arancam. He first appeared in this role with the Washington National Opera in 2008, and has also sung Don José in Sanxay, Moscow and Warsaw, as well as with the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Bolshoi in Moscow. Mr Arancam’s previous appearance with the San Francisco Opera was in 2010 when he sang the role of Christian de Neuveville in ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’.
Baritone Paulo Szot, makes his debut with the San Francisco Opera as Escamillo, a role which he has also performed at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as in Tokyo, Otsu, Valencia, Toronto and Santiago. Mr Szot was a 2008 Tony award-winner for his portrayal of Emile de Becquein in ‘South Pacific’.
Micaëla is sung by Sara Gartland. Her previous appearances with the Company include Barbarina in ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’, Kate Pinkerton in ‘Madama Butterfly’ and Gerhilde in ‘Die Walküre’.
‘Carmen’ will be broadcast by Classical KDFC on Sunday, July 1, at 8.00 pm. If you’re in the Bay Area, visit the KDFC website for your local tuning frequency. For the rest of the world, KDFC will be streaming the broadcast online – just follow the link to Listen Live.
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