One of the great nights – and in the past 50 years there haven’t really been all that many – I’ve spent at the opera was May 14, 1980. I shared this memory in a posting back in February of 2007:
Standing in line for five hours at the Opera Comique waiting for a cancellation for the Berganza-Domingo Carmen. Enduring the abuse of the lumpy spun-sugar blond vendeuse at the box office. “Vous-etes fou d’attender” she heckled repeatedly, then magically produced a front row 1st loge seat 2 minutes to curtain time. The abuse was worth it – one of my great evenings at the opera.
The performance was being broadcast that night by Radio France and when I finally got my hands on a copy of the DVD memory had not deceived me or romanticized the event.
Teresa Berganza simply was Carmen – sly, seductive, playful and ultimately tragic. Not for her the hip wagging slattern that so often passes for Bizet’s gypsy. And she did it all while singing like an angel.
And though Domingo may have sung “La fleur que tu m´avais jetee” with more subtlety on other occasions that night it was the dramatic core of the opera. The tragedy that followed found its impetus in that aria.
It’s the standard by which I’ve – fairly or not – judged every other performance of Carmen since.
25 giugno – San Guiglielmo