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A brutal story set to lovely music

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By Melissa Riedel-Espinoza

Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” is an opera that even opera haters find enjoyable. It’s catchy without being simple, beautiful without being schmaltzy, and it has depth and meaning without being preachy. Santa Fe Opera’s 2014 production takes on the challenges “Carmen” presents and gives audiences a satisfying experience.
“Carmen” is the saga of corporal Don José and Carmen, a factory worker. Despite the humor in the music and the dialogue, there is harshness in this story, which lends realism to the opera.
The designers for this production have done a stellar job by changing the location and adding technology to the show to avoid staleness. The staging is phenomenal, and the updates, rather than being a distraction, feel comfortable and lend interest to an opera that many audience members may have already seen.
The orchestra, under the direction of Rory MacDonald, is flawless. The areas where timing is critical are spot-on, and the sound and intensity are wonderful.
When a company stages a commonly performed opera, it has to work harder to make its production stand out, and MacDonald and his orchestra certainly did their part.


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