Danced here in the adaptation by the Russian composer Rodion Schtschhedrin, Georges Bizet's opera Carmen lasts some 50 minutes, only about one third of the original's playing time. The Swedish Cullberg Ballet Company, choreographed by Mats Ek, is a first-rate ensemble, the girls here dressed in colourful Latin style dresses, the men in fashionable dark grey. The set is penny plain with one chief ornament, a large ball that becomes the focus of some acrobatic dancing. Carmen, danced by a lady of greater age than her José, smokes a cigar: he carries the flowers. Escamillo (Yvan Auzely), dressed in traditional toreador's garb, caps them both in terms of dress, style and movement. Whether the choreographer was wise in creating one role in which the same dancer portrays three characters-José's mother, his girl back home Micaela and Muerte--is a moot point, particularly since the emphasis in his conception is on Don José having to make a decision between his dear old mother, his childhood sweetheart and the world outside. One would have trouble working out who's who without resort to the booklet. Ek's choreography, forged from a number of influences of whom the flying figures at one point suggest Bob Fosse, brings home José's inner conflict, by having him at one point going into spasm in a series of jerky movements. Other gyratory movements within the ensemble are characteristic of his style. The orchestra consists of strings and percussion, the latter over-amplified on the soundtrack to a point that would become wearisome on repeated showings. The lack of colour in the production will not suit all tastes but for those who enjoy a contemporary slant on an old story--such as Matthew Bourne offered in his modern-dress dance version The Car Man--Ek's production offers a valid alternative view. --Adrian Edwardsfrom£6.98 | RRP:
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- 02 April 2001
- The Cullberg Ballet
- Arthaus Musik
- 51 minutes
- Dubbed, PAL
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