Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Denyce Graves

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing 'Carmen' with the beautiful Denyce Graves as the title character at the Kennedy Center. She's a favorite here in DC (as well as around the world) as she is a native Washingtonian. Carmen is among her signature roles. You all probably know the Habanera - here is Denyce singing it below at a concert.

Her best quality though is not her appearance nor her singing ability but her ability to ACT. She IS Carmen in this roll, bringing it to life. She brings more to a song than just diction, poise and correct notes -she brings passion and fire. Unfortunately I felt the rest of the production wasn't as fantastic as her abilities, but sill enjoyable.
Here she is singing her other title role, Delila from Samson and Delila with Placido Domingo- this has always been one of my favorite songs "My heart at thy sweet voice" by Camille Saint-Saens

Carmen is among my favorite operas as it's full of everything I love about the art: fabulous sets, intense music, dancing, costumes, high drama and a beautiful love story with a tragic ending.
The original Carmen from 1875 - the singer Galli-Marie
Basically -here is Carmen in a few seconds or less. Carmen is a beautiful Gypsy in Seville, Span in the 1830s. She can't make up her mind ever about what she wants in life other than to always be 'the boss' . Totally contrary: never satisfied with what she has and goes about charming man after man. A handsome soldier comes along who pays no attention to her so of course she must have him -and she does. However, the luck isn't in the cards for her and it ends badly (I can't give it all away!).The luck wasn't in the cards for the French composer either, Georges Bizet,pictured above. After the critics panned his newest opera, Carmen in 1875, he died 3 months later from a heart attack at age 36 - coincidentally it was also on his 6th wedding anniversary! It quickly became one of the top favorite operas of all time by 1880, however - even to this day people who don't know opera will recognize the songs from Bugs Bunny! If you ever get the chance to see this performed, please don't pass it up, you won't regret it!

Just for fun, to end, here is Denyce appearing on Sesame street with penguins!


R.J. Gilmour said...

You lucky duck...
Would have loved to seen that performance...

Toby Worthington said...

Impossible to believe that Carmen was ever considered a failure as an opera when it has pretty much everything, and not a boring note in the entire score.
Oh, and La Graves is wonderful too.

magnaverde said...

Choosing only between these two operas, I prefer Samson & Dalila, based on the purity of Saent-Saens' vocal lines & the greater visual appeal of gorgeous pagan temples & clouds of nubile dancing girls versus horses, peasants & flower carts. Either way, of course, you get the tragic end. It's opera.

Denyce Graves is wonderful. I've never seen her in either role, but last weekend, I got to see her here in Chicago singing the title role in Margaret Garner at the incredible Auditorium Theatre, and since I'm the theatre's Historian, I was fortunate enough to join Ms Graves for dinner at the Palmer House afterwards.

OK, actually, I joined her & about 600 other people packed into in the hotel's grand ballroom, but still, it was cool.


ArchitectDesign said...

Magneverde -thats wonderful! I was lucky enough to stay at the Palmer House a few years while in Chicago -it's a grand old hotel! The auditorium is amazing as well, we snuck in and had a self-guided tour (shhh, don't tell anyone).
I know Toby, how things change!