Carmen, Arizona Opera

of the action was moved into a bullring with choristers and even some audience
members sitting above it in the arena seats. Uzan and Michael Baumgarten
designed the scenery. Patricia A Hibbert created the period costumes and in
Arizona, stage director Kay Walker Castaldo told the story in a more or less
straightforward manner. Thanks to Baumgarten’s atmospheric lighting, one could
imagine Lillas Pastia’s Tavern or a mountain pass on a dark night inside that

Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Joel Revzen led the Arizona Opera
Orchestra in a brisk and powerful rendition of the score. The Carmen and Don
JosÈ on Saturday evening were American mezzo-soprano Beth Clayton and Mexican
tenor Fernando De La Mora. Clayton had considerable difficulty in the first act
and her Habanera was sometimes out of tune but her seductive looks worked their
magic on much of the audience. De La Mora has a robust voice and he used it to
excellent effect. Both vocally and physically, he was a strong, virile

Jossie-Perez.gifJossie Perez [Photo courtesy of Columbia Artists Management Inc.]

Sunday afternoon’s cast offered Puerto Rican mezzo-soprano Jossie Perez as
Carmen and American tenor Garrett Sorenson as Don JosÈ. Perez is a sex kitten
who sings with colorful chest tones so she makes a fine Carmen. Sorenson, a
tenor with an exciting sound, was a dramatic JosÈ whose Flower Song garnered a
number of bravos. He is definitely a singer to watch. Another new singer who may
have a good career ahead of her is the radiant-voiced Janinah Burnett. Her
MicaÎla was a brave young woman who tried her best to save JosÈ and sang her
aria with floods of iridescent tone.

Mexican baritone Luis Ledesma looked totally authentic as Escamillo, the
bullfighter, and he sang with a strong polished sound. Peter Volpe was a
stentorian Zuniga who commanded the stage. Studio members Cameron Schutza and
Kevin Wetzel were eminently praiseworthy as El Remendado and El DancaÔro. Their
feminine counterparts Rebecca Sjˆwall and Stephanie Foley Davis suffused their
phrases with emotion as Frasquita and MercÈdËs. Sjˆwall has lovely high notes
and they were most welcome in this opera where the title role is sung by a

This production contained a good bit of Flamenco and ballet featuring Dance
Captain Adam Cates and a group of nine powerful but graceful dancers. Peggy
Hickey’s choreography evoked many images of France and Spain, even bringing to
mind a painting or two. The performances of this Carmen next weekend
in Phoenix should be a most worthwhile addition to the city’s fall

Maria Nockin

image_description=Beth Clayton as Carmen [Photo courtesy of]
product_title=Georges Bizet: Carmen
product_by=Carmen: Beth Clayton (November 13, 19, 21), Jossie Perez (November 14, 20); Jose: Fernando de La Mora (November 13, 19, 21), Garett Sorenson (November 14, 20); Micaela: Janinah Burnett; Escamillo: Luis Ledesma; Zuniga: Peter Volpe; Frasquita: Rebecca Sjˆwall; Mercedes: Stephanie Foley Davis; Remendado: Cameron Schutza; Don Cairo: Kevin Wetzel; Morales: Kevin Wetzel. Conductor: Joel Revzen. Director: Kay Walker Castaldo.
product_id=Above: Beth Clayton as Carmen [Photo courtesy of]