Monday, August 15, 2011

Carmen, Margarita, Paco, and Jerry

JOSÉ & CARMEN.  SHE WAS AMAZING.
We broke with routine last night and decided to take in some live opera.  Margarita phoned to say she and her friend Paco were going to the Palacio de la Buhaira to see a performance of "Carmen" in an outdoor theater in the gardens there and she invited us to join them.  Now, I am definitely not a huge opera fan, but I do like "Carmen" and I figured, as did Margarita, the language would not be an issue since I knew the story and the music so well.  The first opera Jerry had ever seen was "Carmen," so he also felt very comfortable.  Besides, the story of "Carmen" takes place in Sevilla at a very large tobacco factory.  We are in Sevilla and we regularly walk by the very large tobacco factory, which is now part of the University of Sevilla.  What could be more perfect?

THE PERFORMANCE WAS IN THE INTERIOR COURTYARD UNDER THAT GLOWING MOON.

We met Margarita and Paco at a bar in the middle of the Gardens of the Buhaira (just a few minutes by taxi from our hotel; a 15-minute walk if it weren't 36 degrees — 97F — outside) at 9:45 for the 10:00 performance.  When we arrived, Margarita said she was embarrassed to tell us that she suspected this may not be an opera, but rather a modern theatrical production of "Carmen." She was concerned that we would have to sit through an entire play in Spanish.  But, we didn't care.  It was our first live theater in Sevilla.  And the setting was stunning.  Besides, it was reassuring to know that even a native Sevillana can get things confused sometimes.

JERRY, MARGARITA, AND PACO AFTER THE SHOW.  CARMEN WAS TWICE DEAD.

The Palace of La Buhaira was built outside the city of Sevilla in 1171 and the gardens were irrigated via an old Roman aqueduct.  As Sevilla grew over the centuries the area became absorbed into the city, although it is not part of the ancient city center.  I took a walk over this afternoon to explore the gardens and to get daylight pictures.

THE PALACIO/THEATER THIS AFTERNOON.

The play was, as my Aunt Rozzie would say, "interesting" (which sometimes means, "I'm not sure I understand but I'm not going to be closed-minded"). The production quality was excellent.  The cast was very good.  And we all agreed that the woman who played Carmen was phenomenal.  She was so expressive that it wouldn't matter what language she performed in.  We still would have "gotten it."  I was able to understand entire sentences, but was not able to really follow the flow of dialog, which was obvious when I didn't always laugh in sync with the rest of the audience.

A COOLING VIEW OF THE GARDENS TODAY.  ANOTHER VERY HOT DAY IN SEVILLA.

And there was one actor with an accent I could not fathom.  It sounded to me like he was from Brooklyn (sorry my Brooklyn friends)... only in Spanish.  Margarita explained to me afterward that he was from Córdoba.  I guess it's the same thing.  My college Italian teacher said people from New York, and especially Brooklyn, speak without using any of the muscles around their mouths. I think she might have said the same thing about people from Córdoba.

THE ANCIENT AQUEDUCT.

Unfortunately, the director did something I've seen before and could not appreciate (the first time was at a production of a Molière play at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego).  The setting in history changed as the play progressed.  The story began where it was supposed to begin, in mid-19th century Sevilla.  But as each scene progressed, the era changed.  I thought it was odd at first when the costumes were inconsistent.  But, I finally caught on when one of the characters, now wearing a contemporary business suit, used a cell phone prop.

THE UNIVERSITY OF SEVILLA.  THE TOBACCO FACTORY OF CARMEN FAME.

In this production, Carmen and José begin the play with José stabbing and killing Carmen at the tobacco factory.  They end the play with José stabbing and killing Carmen in a bullring.  When José stabs and kills Carmen for the second time, there are actors in the background waving Sevilla flags while pre-recorded football game cheers play.  We think this was to hearken back to when Sevilla beat Real Madrid in the 2007 Spanish Super Cup.  Like I said, "interesting."

ATOP THE MAIN ENTRANCE OF THE TOBACCO FACTORY/UNIVERSITY OF SEVILLA.

Paco loved the performance.  Jerry and I were happy to be out on the town and in such charming company.  Margarita didn't much care for the lack of respect for the original "Carmen" (she, like I, just doesn't get that period-change concept).  But it was a wonderful night out.


10 comments:

  1. What a beautiful Moorish building in (or out actually) which to see theatre.
    Experimental theatre doesn't usually do it for me either. I think the time shift would drive me crazy!

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  2. OMG that building is amazing...I LOVE THIS BLOG :)

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  3. Craig:
    A good friend of ours is an actor and he performed in that Moliere play. The time shift drove him crazy, too.

    David:
    You are a sweetheart. Thanks! And the building IS amazing. I'll have so much more to share once we get settled.

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  4. Carmen is one of my favorite and I agree I am not a fan when people change what is great to begin with.

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  5. Nubian:
    I try to keep an open mind. But, really, what's the point. I might as well be honest from the start!

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  6. Before you know it you speak Sevillian Spanish with an Irvine accent! ;)

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  7. How lucky you were, soaking up that glorious music in such an appropriate setting.
    Despite alluding to two of my most UNfavourite subjects, smoking and bullfighting, 'Carmen' is an extraordinary work of genius - the 'tunes' just keep tumbling out over each other from beginning to end. Such a great shame that its first performance was such a disaster, pretty well certainly contributing to the tragically early demise of its creator who could well have finished up in the pantheon of the very greatest composers. But 'Carmen' is definitely one of those works which seem to suffer whenever anyone fiddles around too much with Bizet's original vision. (I speak as someone who has walked out of at least one production despite buying one of the best seats - and from what you say I would have exited even before the cell phones appeared.)

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  8. Peter:
    I don't know what an Irvine accent is (it's part of Southern California sprawl), but as long as I don't speak Sevillano Spanish with a Brooklyn accent, I'll be fine!

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  9. Raybeard:
    Yes, you would definitely have walked out of this performance, especially since it was not the opera. But, I'm glad I saw it. It does, however, make me want to see a "real" production very soon.

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  10. Oops, sorry Mitch! I see I've rhapsodised at some length on something which was not even the subject of your blog. I'll put my error down to my being distracted by your wonderful pics, which is close to the truth.

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