Created by Antonio Gades in collaboration with Carlos Saura, this matchless production shows how the explosive power and intensity of feeling in traditional Spanish flamenco can bring vividly to life the sultry passion, earthy emotion, love and rivalry that is Carmen.
Filmed in High Definition at the Teatro Real, Madrid for the 75th anniversary celebration of Gades' birth, the Compania Antonio Gades performs Carmen to perfection.
First thing is to caution that this performance is not wholly set to the music of Bizet’s
Carmen. In fact very little of the music from that opera is utilised (CHs. 3, 15, 16, 23). What does appear, is taken from a 1960s Decca recording featuring Regina Resnik, Mario Del Monaco and Tom Krause. In reality, its age does not matter as, in those instances, the dancers perform to the amplified recorded sound. Elsewhere much of the music is played by a guitar duo sometimes accompanied by a solo singer or by a group.
Although little of the music from Bizet’s opera is used the story portrayed in dance is basically the same. This danced performance is essentially that created by the iconic dancer and choreographer Antonio Gades and film director Carlos Saura for a 1983 film. The earlier
Carmen film received an Oscar nomination and won the Jury's Award at the Cannes Festival. It followed the very successful earlier filming of the ballet
Bodas de sangre (Blood Wedding) created by Gades and filmed by Saura. The performance filmed here celebrates the seventy-fifth anniversary of the birth of Gades.
Antonio Gades is one of the most influential figures in Spanish flamenco. He has played a decisive role in getting the genre recognized by the contemporary art world and introduced his Bizet
Carmen choreography in performance in the 1960s. This production shows how the explosive power and intensity of feeling in traditional Spanish flamenco can bring vividly to life the passion, emotion, love and rivalry that is
Carmen. In this manner it was performed at Teatro alla Scala, Milan among other notable venues.
In this production with dancers of
Compañía Antonio Gades, the balance of the emotions, allied to the variety of music, is particularly well thought through and realised. In his choreography, Gades, with his traditional ballet background, marries that art form and the traditions of the Andalusian flamenco to perfection. As a non-Spaniard, the nature of the true flamenco tradition as distinct from what the tourist often meets is intriguing. When in Spain I have managed to get away from what is little better than tap and belly dancing to see the proper version of which this is a particularly spectacular example. The use of the feet, shod in shoes with hard-capped toe and heel ends, is vital along with periodic rhythmic hand-clapping. Timing is all, particularly in ensemble where exactness is essential if cacophony is to be avoided and the emotions of the musical drama properly conveyed. In this performance manner and execution are perfect (CH.3). The men are all are in modern dress at this stage. The women are more colourfully dressed and much use is made the flow of their skirts. The main soloists use very elegant costumes with that of the bullfighter being particularly striking. All seem appropriate, often spectacular as with the bullfighter (CHs. 20-23) and very enjoyable. Sets are minimal: chairs, small tables and mirrors.
The timing shown includes twelve minutes of explanation by Eugenia Eiriz, Director of the Antonio Gades Foundation. I suggest watching that first. It’s an excellent introduction to the whole.
-- Robert J Farr, MusicWeb International Read less
Works on This Recording
Carmen: Suite(s)by Georges Bizet
Madrid Teatro Real Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1875; France