A Review of ‘Carmen’ at the Municipal Theater of Santiago
SANTIAGO — Regardless of how spectacular the show would have been last night, I knew it would be a memorable experience. Carmen was the first opera I had ever seen. Despite its highlights, the Municipal Theater of Santiago had a more lasting impression.
Originally inaugurated in 1857 during the presidency of Manuel Montt Torres, the theater was designed by French-Chilean architect Claudio Brunet des Baines (who developed the theater’s French Neoclassical exterior) and civil engineer Felipe Charme. The bright lights of the lobby made me feel like royalty as I walked inside. The performance hall, however, was smaller, quainter and more beautiful. There were very few rows of seats, elegant balconies surrounding us, and a circular, Sistine Chapel-like ceiling painting to gaze upon.
Georges Bizet’s Carmen featured the classic, recognizable musical numbers like Carmen’s “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” and Escamillo’s “Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre”. The most fantastic performance was given by Micaela (played by Marie-Adeline Henry) in Act Three’s “C’est les contrabandiers le refuge ordinaire”. I got chills listening to her voice longing for her love, Don José (played by Albert Kim), as she displayed her entire vocal repertoire.
Don José and Carmen (played by Maite Beaumontt) also sang beautifully. The most notable scene was at the very end, in which Carmen forces Don José to choose between killing her and letting her see Escamillo. Don José’s passionate voice filled the entire hall so profoundly that I thought Carmen would go deaf standing right next to him.
The one downside was that the Spanish subtitles were shown on a screen placed near the top of the curtain, so that following the storyline prevented me from focusing on the actors and actresses on occasion. Aside from that, it was an excellent show!