BIZET Carmen / Bumbry, Vickers, Karajan 0734032

. . . this acclaimed dramatic singer-actress has been a master of song as well as of opera . . . vocal supremacy and stylistic finesse . . . compelling incarnations of mezzo and soprano roles . . . rapt poetic evocations of songs . . . "Widmung" (from "Myrthen") is indeed an ideal example of her sovereign vocal technique faultlessly channelling high artistic expressiveness . . . [on "Carmen" DVD]: [an] essential recording . . . [Bumbry] ideally captured the vitally elusive complexity of Carmen . . . Bumbry crucially projected not only the provocative pagan power, the seductive capricious enchantment, but also the strangely haunting, almost aesthetic mystery . . . This she evoked in her vocal colour, character and phrasing and in her sophisticated yet spontaneously suggestive acting -- a Carmen both casual and profound . . . She cares deeply about the future of opera and devotes long spells of her time passing on her panoramic operatic experience to gifted young artists of the future. This and her legacy of recordings (DG is planning a nine-disc box-set to mark her 80th birthday) are indeed inspirational lights for opera's tomorrow.

. . . memorable for Vickers, Bumbry and Freni . . . and Karajan's sweeping conducting.

It's fascinating . . . Karajan not only conducts but also serves as stage director. This is a very tight, well-balanced production, with the focus on character development and free of needless shtick. See if you can spot his cameo appearance in the cast . . . you are likely to find watching this an enjoyable and rewarding experience. It is appealing to the eye and ear, and we are fortunate to have a visual record of Bumbry, Vickers, and Freni in roles that figured prominently in their careers. Vickers alone is worth the price of admission.

The orchestra is predictably magnificent and it¿s the pit sequences that are most genuinely cinematic . . . this "Carmen" is emphatically the real, deliciously theatrical thing.

few versions boast such well-acted, brilliantly sung leading roles. Grace Bumbry's Carmen is a beautiful, witty temptress, amused at the deliriums she induces. Bumbry's facial expressions and body movements help create a nuanced character, and her singing is compelling, especially effective in the big moments; the Habanera done
with languorous flirtatiousness, the Seguedilla entrancing. One of opera's greatest singing actors, Vickers portrays the unworldly soldier of Act One before morphing into the tortured hero torn between love and duty of Act Two and finally, the insane outlaw of the finale. He and Bumbry strike sparks in the tavern scene and his "Flower" aria is the vocal and emotional highlight, begun in a throaty half-voice and building into an overwhelmingly intense cri de coeur. Mirelli Freni's Micaela, the village girl Don Jose abandons for Carmen, acts and sings her arias with vocal beauty and charm to burn. Justino Diaz is a straightforward Escamillo in a part that wants more flair and self-centered smugness. Smaller roles are adequately done . . . a must-have for Bumbry and Vickers.

Aber ich glaube, daß nicht einmal der Opernfremde auch nur eine einzige Minute Leerlauf empfand . . . In Summe: ein großes Fernsehereignis.

Die Kamera wertete Karajans "Carmen" auf . . . Ungleich besser als auf der Bühne.

Faszinierend die Aufführung und die Wiedergabe der Karajanschen Salzburger Festspiel-Inszenierung von Bizets "Carmen".

Wer also in Bild und Musik jene "Carmen" erleben will, die im Salzburger Festspielsommer 1966 an der Salzach Premiere hatte, wird an diesem Film seine Freude haben. Über die musikalischen Qualitäten dieser Produktion sind kaum noch Worte zu verlieren: Der Dirigent Karajan bleibt dem Meisterwerk Bizets nichts schuldig. Die unerhörte Farbenpracht der Musik kommt in dieser Interpretation zu voller Geltung. Der Ausdrucksbogen, der sich hier von Eleganz und Pikanterie bis zum tödlichen Sturm der Leidenschaft schwingt, wird unter Karajan bis zum Zerreißen gespannt.

(Carmen:) Die Wiener Philharmoniker in Glanzform, virtuos, elegant, eruptiv und Silbe für Silbe flexibel mit den Sängern atmend. Geradezu altmodisch perfekt.

(Figaros Hochzeit:) Dank Jean Pierre Ponnelles poetischer Regie ein veritables filmisches Fest, dem der große Karl Böhm am Pult der weich und herrlich aufspielenden Wiener Philharmoniker das musikalische Rückgrat sicherte . . . und der ebenso legendäre, extrem wortdeutliche Graf des Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

(Cavalleria/Bajazzo:) Placido Domingo in zwei Glanzpartien . . . selten lebt Oper auf dem Bildschirm so, selten klingen auch Chor und Orchester so intensiv und überwältigend.

(Schwanensee:) Der Ballettfilm aller Ballettfilme . . . eine atemberaubend schöne, atemberaubend dramatische Klassiker Verfilmung.

. . . la famosa película supervisada por el inefable Karajan, acierta con mejor gusto y conocimiento la ambientación sevillana situada alrededor de aquella ocupación francesa. Este acierto acrecienta la calidad de la cinta con una Carmen creada, en este caso, por la cantante Grace Bumbry.