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Friday, September 2, 2016

Carmen (1984)

In 1875 Spain, a career soldier (Placido Domingo) finds himself both repelled and attracted to a sexually free gypsy girl (Julia Migenes) who works in a tobacco factory. She toys with him and he falls in love but no good will come of it. Directed by Francesco Rosi (HANDS OVER THE CITY) and based upon Bizet's popular opera. Filmed opera is problematic in many ways. Some of the greatest opera singers aren't necessarily "attractive" enough for cinema but on the opera stage, a great voice and stage presence are what really matters. Also, the thrill of seeing live opera is hearing what the singer does in the moment while filmed opera is, of necessity, pre-recorded. Then too often, directors feel the opera is the thing so a camera is placed to merely record the performers which doesn't make for great cinema. Rosi's adaptation is thrilling because it's a real movie, not a film of a staged opera, this moves. Beautifully shot on location in Andalusia by the great Pasqualino De Santis (Zeffirelli's ROMEO AND JULIET), the movie is alive with activity and colors and the performances are naturalistic (for an opera, anyway) rather than posed. The film is fortunate with Migenes as Carmen. She has a gorgeous voice, sexy, a good screen presence and she can act. You can believe this vixen can lure men to their doom! Domingo is in fine voice if somewhat stiff but that fits Don Jose perfectly. With Faith Esham and Ruggero Raimondi.

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