“Carmen” with Simon Rattle, Magdalena Kožená and Jonas Kaufmann

21/04/2012

Berliner Philharmoniker
Sir Simon Rattle

Magdalena Kožená, Jonas Kaufmann

  • Georges Bizet
    Carmen (Reconstruction of the original version by Fritz Oeser) concert performance (02:44:27)

    Magdalena Kožená Mezzo-Soprano (Carmen), Rachel Frenkel Mezzo-Soprano (Mercédès), Jean-Paul Fouchécourt Tenor (Remendado), Andrè Schuen Bass-Baritone (Moralès), Jonas Kaufmann Tenor (Don José), Genia Kühmeier Soprano (Micaëla), Kostas Smoriginas Baritone (Escamillo), Christina Landshamer Soprano (Frasquita), Christian van Horn Bass Bariton (Zuniga), Simone del Salvio Bariton (Dancaïro), Eberhard Friedrich Chorus Master, Chor und Kinderchor der Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Vinzenz Weissenburger Chorus Master

  • Carmen: Video with English and German subtitles (02:44:28)

  • free

    “Carmen” at the Berlin Philharmonie (00:17:34)

For many, it is the operatic event of the season: Bizet’s Carmen at the Salzburg Easter Festival with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle. In a highly anticipated debut, Magdalena Kožená sang the role of Carmen for the first time in a staged performance. At her side, an outstanding tenor of the younger generation, Jonas Kaufmann, as Don José. After the festival, the musicians present their interpretation to audiences in both the Philharmonie in Berlin and in the Digital Concert Hall.

Carmen is one of the most fascinating figures in the operatic repertoire: sometimes erotic, sometimes cool, sometimes spontaneous, sometimes calculating – a factory worker and smuggler, she reigns like a queen over her people with a magical aura. A heroine like this was unacceptable to audiences in Bizet’s time. Similarly, the plot was too direct, too drastic and appeared un-operatic. But it is exactly these characteristics that ensure the opera’s enduring popularity.

The music comes across as authentic as the characters. Even if its gorgeous melodies and colourful flair appeal to almost everyone, Bizet never tries to curry favour with audiences. The score was probably best characterised by Friedrich Nietzsche: “This music seems to me to be perfect. It ... is evil, subtly fatalistic; at the same time it remains popular .... Have more painful, tragic accents ever been heard on the stage? And how are they obtained? Without grimace! Without counterfeit coinage ! Without the imposture of the grand style!”

EMISir Simon Rattle appears by courtesy of EMI Classics.

 

Deutsche GrammophonMagdalena Kožená appears by courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft.

 

Jonas Kaufmann appears by courtesy of Decca Classics.