Yesterday was our first Opera Up Close of the year. A great crowd came out to MMoCA to hear General Director Allan Naplan talk about the music and history of Carmen. One of my favorite segments was a comparison of “Habanera” interpretations by the great African-American singers Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, Leontyne Price, Jessye Norman, and Denyce Graves. The range of tempi in particular was striking.
Katharine Goeldner, Adam Diegel,Candace Evans, and John DeMain (see photo above) were also on hand for a lively discussion about interpreting this ever-popular and ever-present work. The presentation ended with a hilarious look at the music of Carmen in American popular culture. We even un-earthed John Corigliano’s “Electric Rock Opera” version of the Bizet, called The Naked Carmen. Needless to say there’s a reason you may not have heard of it.
Yesterday was also a great day for Madison Opera in the news: