IN: Reviews

CLT Carmen Wraps


Olga Lisovkaya as Micaëla, and Don Jose as Giovanni Formisano (Danilova photo)

Commonwealth Lyric Theater made a concise, successful show of Carmen Sunday in Newton’s War Memorial Auditorium, with truncated dialogue between solos and ensembles, and the original French lent varying degrees of idiomatic accuracy and flavor. Alexander Prokhorov-Tolstoy directed masterfully in the small space, and conductor Ismael Sandoval economically led the seven-piece ensemble to deliver spritely sounds, supplemented by expert pianist Alexander Pokidchenko. The bright costumes of designer Natalya Stolyarova in the style of the epoch had great appeal.

In the title role, mezzo Anna Cley portrayed the strong-willed gypsy with sensual and determined self-confidence; her acting showed absolute conviction with highly musical delivery of text, only slightly flawed by being marginally under pitch on the highest notes.

To the part of Don José, Neapolitan tenor Giovanni Formisano brought a burnished resonance so brilliant it often induced the audience to near-frenzy. Convincing and credible, he made the Don’s desperation overwhelming, and only occasional Italianate-sounding French syllables faintly marred such glorious singing. Formisano should be on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera.

Soprano Olga Lisovskaya brought beautifully limpid sounds to Micaela’s music, her voice soaring to the climaxes of her third-act aria. It was an interpretation sympathetic and heartwarming, her interaction with Don José caressing. Baritone Franco Pomponi sang Escamillo with virile tone richly and proudly delivered, blending with Don José in their exciting duet. Soprano Jean Furman and mezzo Natalja Sticco played Carmen’s friends, Frasquita and Mercedes, imbuing their parts with secure tone and vivid characterization and, in the famous “Card Trio” with Carmen, lovely mixes of harmony.

Patrick Starke’s Ramendado, Afanasy Prokhorov’s Dancaïro, Clark Rubinshtein’s Lilas Pastia, and actor Daniel Bravarkin’s Zuniga, all got dispatched with aplomb and authority. The elegant and assured flamenco dancing of Sabrina Aviles totally represented the style.

The capacity audience responded with shouts and applause.

Vocal coach Bradley Pennington is founder and AD of Boston Bel Canto Opera.


4 Comments [leave a civil comment (others will be removed) and please disclose relevant affiliations]

  1. First of all I would like to commend Commonwealth Lyric Opera for all the fine productions they have offered the Boston Community. They put such creativity, heart, and musicality in all of their productions.
    This review absolutely captures the esthetic of this production.. supporting the beautiful contributions of each cast member and recognizing the stage direction which allowed the singers to perform at their optimum and still have the composer’s intention shine through.
    I really appreciated how this review captured the strengths of this wonderful resource (CLT)in our community… to bring music, fine singing, creative direction and heart to the audience … Mr.Formisano’s singing was accomplished and exciting and Ms Lisovskaya sang with beauty and generosity . ( pictured) Congratulations to all!
    Thank you Mr. Pennington for this thoughtful review. It is so appropriate for a classical musician to be a critic for local opera. Thank you Boston Musical Intelligencer for reviewing local
    Classical performances!

    Comment by Joanna Porackova — May 31, 2019 at 11:37 am

  2. Thank you for this review; regretfully, as I said before I had to be away for all performances and just made Handel’s Silla in Somerville by 70 minutes. CLT has quite a following from the Russian/Slavic community–I hope without Muellerite troubles! How does one go about contributing reviews? Right now I can only piggy-back on someone else? I am not good at telling the difference between being good vs. great vs. GREAT performance; when someone misses/phlubbs notes I can tell though. I know promoting performers is a necessary business. We do need to distinguish between “Avoid like the Plague” vs. “Cross that menace off the List [don’t see THAT one again!]” vs. “A good evening spent” vs. “Memorable” vs. “People! Go hear this one!” etc.

    Comment by Nathan Redshield — June 2, 2019 at 10:27 am


    Comment by davidrmoran — June 2, 2019 at 3:09 pm

  4. The review given by Mr. Bradley Pennington gave excellence to what should be expected in an audience. Bel Canto singing is an art form that only certain criteria should be meet.
    In viewing the Carmen production, Mr. Pennington gave an excellent review of all the performers. Being said, I trust that his honest opinion will serve as a benchmark for the quality of music and performance will allow. I hope to see more review from Mr. Pennington in the future.

    Comment by Thomas R. Rowen — June 10, 2019 at 10:22 am

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