Expressing the sensuality of Georges Bizet’s smouldering Carmen, who leaves a destructive trail of heartbreak as the story progresses from Seville, to the gypsies’ den in the mountains, to the rousing finale at the bullring, is challenging. Carmen as a dramatic mezzo-soprano role seduces as much with her sweeping vocal range as with her shimmering sensuality. Here Carmen has to rely entirely on the medium of dance to express her hypnotic charm. It demands great expression from the leading dancers, headed by Olga Konosenko in the title role, with Martynas Rimeikis as Don Jose, Eligijus Butkus as Escamillo, and Ruta Juodzeviciute as Micaela.
Choreographer Didy Veldman aims for grounded choreography with “Carmen’s spirit being embedded within the natural elements.” This is true of the careless, reckless gypsy girl; she is very linked to the earth, to here and now. There is nothing ethereal about her. Her beauty and charm is not delicate and otherworldly but harsh and coarse yet always enchanting.
Konosenko should seduce the audience with her Habanera and savage sensuality as much as the Carmen of Bizet’s opera. Conductor Modestas Karbauskas leads the rousing and haunting musical score which expresses so much: the exotic heat of Seville, the fall of Don Jose as he loses his heart and soul to Carmen, and the dramatic powerful notes which accompany victorious, arrogant toreador Escamillo.
As with the opera, the skill of the ballet is to show the four main characters’ very distinct and different personalities, finally leaving the audience as much mesmerised by Carmen as Don Jose, until her spell-binding beauty and smouldering vitality are violently extinguished.
Lithuanian National Opera & Ballet Theatre
A. Vienuolio g. 1
Performance: May 7
(Also returning in September season)
Tickets and information: www.opera.lt/en