By Amrit Rooprai
For anyone seeking a night of highly sophisticated fun in Oxford, look no further than the New Theatre Oxford and their exceptional showcases, including Ellen Kent’s production of the renowned Carmen opera. The theatre’s exceptional Piano Bar also provided a beautiful pre-showcase setting, and served delectable drinks in an ambience that displayed the true Oxfordshire experience.
An enticing and scandalous story of love and seduction, set in southern Spain but articulated in French, Carmen tells the story of Don José, a Spanish soldier who is swayed by the beautiful gypsy lady Carmen. This story provides a particularly interesting perspective of the moral conflict between the conformist José and his amour Carmen, who indulges in activities such as smuggling contraband. Not only does this storyline make the arias interesting to younger crowds, but the provision of English subtitles by the New Theatre makes it perfect for the first time Opera attendee. This thoughtful touch makes the performance more accessible, while being placed in a non-distracting visual plane. The truly brilliant orchestra synchronises perfectly with the vocals of the singers, portraying their strong efforts at making this performance exceptional.
The chemistry between José and Carmen was truly encapsulating in the portrayal of love and betrayal. Without giving too much away, the actress’ slyness and charisma truly embodied that of the gypsy and her pursuit of excitement as intended by composer Bizet. The convincingly portrayed fight scenes also upheld the enjoyment of the production, while giving it an occasional comedic twist. One must commend José for his clever placement within the crowd onstage. His presence wasn't immediately obvious, but keen watchers could spot him, adding an element of intrigue and thrill.
The theatre layout and the acoustic harmony between the orchestra, actors, and architecture contributed to the immersive atmosphere. In conclusion, Carmen at the New Oxford theatre was a well-performed artistic display, engaging the youth in true Oxonian style. The exceptional orchestra and vivid chemistry between actors made it a delectableexperience for those of all ages and backgrounds, making it an ideal activity for those wishing to appreciate a unique form of storytelling with friends and family.
As Ellen Kent travels on their UK tour, do not miss the opportunity to indulge in their interpretation of one of the most famous operas. The link below may be used to book tickets for her next shows.