By MIKE DUNHAM
I saw what's billed as the first opera ever shot in 3D on Wednesday night at Century 16. According to the internet, it will be shown again tonight at Regal Tekahtnu in Muldoon at 7:30 p.m.
This is a "Carmen" worth catching. London's Royal Opera House used the original version, which includes a little dialogue. Julian Napier leads the orchestra with intensity. And the cast was remarkably good. Bryan Hymel's powerful tenor made one want to rename the opera "Don Jose." Christine Rice presents the title role as a seductress mature in the ways of the world, but still the slave of her own heart. I've probably heard better Escamillo's than Aris Argiris, but I've never heard one deliver most of the toreador song from the back of a big black stallion in the middle of Lillas Pastia's saloon. (The same horse returns with Carmen in the finale. Other critters on stage include a donkey and a live chicken.)
Director Francesca Zambello is the real hero in this production, however. I've found some of her stagings a bit weird, but not this one. Every gesture keeps the drama taught and builds the tension to white hot climaxes. The choreography, animated expressions and, yes, camera angles all blend into grand theater.
The 3D effect seemed wasted on my eyes. In some shots I thought it actually looked clearer without the glasses. But the sound was extraordinarily clean and present. There were no intermission features or more than a glimpse backstage. Acts flowed back to back with only a single 20 minute "Interval" after act II.
We have a bit of a mini opera movie festival at hand right now. The Met's "Iphigenie en Tauride" with Susan Graham and Placido Domingo will be encored at 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday, and "Lucia di Lammermoor" - the same production as previously seen, but with Natalie Dessay rather than Anna Netrebko - will be presented live at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 19. So far as I know, these movie operas screen at both the Century and Regal theaters.
If Opera is not your thing, Gustavo Dudamel will conduct the LA Philharmonic in a live big-screen all-Tchaikovsky program at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 13.