Saturday, May 22, 2010

Carmen, O2 Arena review

If you ever thought about seeing Carmen at the O2 Arena, don't! If you were thinking or getting one of those cheap almost free tickets, don't! You will leave frustrated, and not because the former Millennium Dome is shit and colas will cost you between £2-4+.

We purchased front rows seat (and not those cheap tickets you get from 'insiders', much to our regret) and we still couldn't see shit. This was mainly because they hired tons of extras to shield the performers (who were mainly not in sync'ed with the excellent orchestra by the good people from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, because they can't be bothered to keep an eye on one of the billions of tellies there with the conductor in it) especially in the last act with the street carnival and all, as well having a part raised platform on the arena with the principals often preferring to sing in a huddled position hidden away from the audience.

It was never a good idea to host a opera in a 20,000+ arena and it shows. The acoustic was awful and the majority of people attending aren't used to this sort of shows - they were firing pictures with flash as if it was a basketball match! A thick skin lady behind us was even firing her SLR (with flash!) in quiet sections, with nary a scolding from the stewards. It wasn't a surprise to see people leaving even before the intermission. But what do you expect when the opera was mainly marketed to the lowest common denominator with a ridiculous marketing campaign of trying to associate the production with ITV's awful "from Popstars to Operastar"?

Finally let's not forget that Carmen at the O2 is actually performed in English. Sacrilegious.


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you; we left before the interval as, being at the back of the auditorium, we could see nothing and could hear even less. We are seasoned opera go-ers and had never visited the O2 before. We've never felt so detached from a performance in our lives. Awful.

Anonymous said...

An appaling saturyda evening was spent with Carmen. We could not hear or see whoever it was that was singing.

Left at interval. This is the worst possible producton of any opera we've seen.

Anonymous said...

You aren't the only one disliking Carmen at the O2. We too left during the interval as we were seated behind the orchestra away from all the action.

Anonymous said...

Everything was terrible. Acting was rubbish and the sopranos was poor and flat, and sounded like someone out of Eastenders. Darius should have stuck with pop as he was absolutely rubbish.

The production was amateur. No passion at all. People were buying hotdogs and chips like it was a Britney Spears concert.

Rosemary said...

I saw it Sunday afternoon and stuck it out to the end despite rustling sweet wrappers and flash photography throughout. Was very disappointed with lack of control over flash photography which spoiled many quiet moments. Agree Darius bad experiment. Acrobats good but annoyed they continued to perform (and be applauded) even when the singing commenced (during key moment between Don Jose and Carmen). People were allowed to take their seats several minutes after the Acts had commenced and didn't even bother to wait for gaps in the music. Would not recommend the O2 as an opera venue. I hope it hasn't put first timers off ever seeing another opera.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that the O2 Arena as a venue for opera is hopeless. Not only did we have to put up with flash photography, but fellow audience members munching on their chips during emotional arias.
In fairness to the performers, they had a very short, very intensive rehearsal schedule. On Friday they had a dress rehearsal and a performance, and most were exhausted. Despite Doctor Theatre, they struggled.
I also agree that the sound was dreadful. It was absolutely appalling on Friday night; there were choruses that were missed (the children's chorus had no singers mic-ed up.... and I understand the children were blamed for this). Also the orchestra were too loud. ON the Sunday, when I also attended, the sound levels were much better until the end of Act 3.
More rehearsal and sound checks before the performances would have made this a more positive experience, but in the end, let's not have any more opera performances at the O2 please Mr Gubbay.