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The stage is a fixed space. It is the axis around which story, conflict, and character revolve. When that fixed space shifts, new possibilities emerge. Starting Wednesday, April 23, a shifting site for theater emerges at Deering Estate, a 444-acre environmental, archeological, and historical preserve along the edge of Biscayne Bay in Palmetto Bay. Four local playwrights have collaborated ..

Nearly two years ago, Miami’s Zoetic Stage took its first trip into the world of Harold Pinter with an intense, superbly acted production of the Nobel laureate’s 1978 hit “Betrayal” in the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater. Now Zoetic is delving further back into the Pinter canon with a riveting production of “The Caretaker.” This 1960 work is, like “Betrayal,” a three-character ..

Imagine animation created live on stage, with mini backdrops, puppets, and low-tech props. Channel it through multiple cameras and mix it live into a projected film. Add a string quartet and a DJ. This is the structure of “Nufonia Must Fall,” an upcoming project presented by MDC Live Arts. The show is slated for appearances around the world, from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and..

That Actors’ Playhouse opened its production of Robert Schenkkan’s “All the Way” on the same day that the American Health Care Act was pulled from a vote by the House of Representatives is ironic and more than a little instructive. The much-touted replacement for Obamacare didn’t have enough sure votes to ensure passage, as Speaker Paul Ryan told President Donald Trump, so the “replac..

The take-no-prisoners world of high finance and ruthless business deals has long been a tantalizing subject for artists. From filmmaker Oliver Stone’s 1987 “Wall Street,” with its antihero Gordon Gekko spouting “greed is good,” to Damien Lewis’ slick hedge fund mogul Bobby Axelrod in the Showtime series “Billions,” movies and television allow those of us in the 99 percent a glimpse at wha..

Miami’s venerable M Ensemble is a company that sometimes dips into its rich history to mount fresh productions of past shows. For its second production in its versatile new home at the Sandrell Rivers Theater in Liberty City, the troupe is revisiting Darren Canady’s “Brothers of the Dust.” Winner of the 2012 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award from the American Theatre Critics Association, the ..

“El cuento de Rene,” actor and director Larry Villanueva’s adaptation of Cuban writer Rene Ariza’s short stories into a work of theater, is more than an homage. It’s a statement on oppression. Ariza was sentenced to eight years in prison for trying to send manuscripts abroad. He was banned from creating theater in Cuba and condemned as “counter-revolutionary.” Ariza served five years of h..

Those who attend film festivals aren't looking for the mainstream, Cineplex offerings. That isn't the goal. Amid the indie films, the foreign entries, documentaries, and the world premieres, there's another reason to canvass the program for something you might not see anywhere else. Given the Miami Film Festival is the only major film festival to be produced by a college or university..

{This interview was conducted before the film making team went on to amazing Oscar success.} Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney and filmmaker Barry Jenkins are nine miles away from the Liberty City housing projects where they both grew up, but they are worlds away. They are at the picturesque Standard Hotel to talk about the new movie "Moonlight," with a screenplay by Jenkins base..

First things first. Actor-playwright Elena María García does explain the meaning of “¡FUÁCATA!” somewhere deep into the 90-minute running time of Zoetic Stage’s “García Or a Latina’s Guide to Surviving the Universe.” The familiar Cuban term, she confides from her perch on Michael McKeever’s Mondrian-evocative set, suggests the sound of a slap. As in, “¡Fuácata! You really stepped in i..

“What does it mean to belong? What does it mean to not want to belong?” These are questions that choreographer Reggie Wilson contemplates in his provocative piece “CITIZEN,“ which makes its M..

If even a modicum of redemption can be forged from the hellish after-effects of gun violence, we must listen to the communities most affected by the violence. To this end, “Trigger,” a hip-ho..

Celebrating 35 years is an amazing achievement for any dance company in Miami, but especially one founded in a decade better known for its ties to drugs than to the arts. Momentum Dance Compa..

For Tigertail Productions, April is the month of fire. Like their WATER Festival in 2016, this month’s FIRE Festival celebrates a single element in multiple art forms, including dance, visual..

During the month of April the organizers of the seventh iteration of the O Miami Poetry Festival intend every resident of Miami Dade county to encounter a poem or – even better – write one! An..

As the “home-grown” sweetheart of Miami City Ballet, Patricia Delgado is having her final performances this season before leaving the city and the company she loves to move to New York City.H..

Even people who can’t find Argentina on a map and believe tangos only happen in Paris know La Cumparsita’s iconic four beat opening. Like a bar’s last call, La Cumparsita tells tango dancers ..

Miami City Ballet will conclude its season this week with a rich selection of repertory pieces: two from Balanchine, in very expressive but distinct modes, and one from modern-dance master Pa..

Ballet Flamenco La Rosa’s studio evokes the feel of a tablao in Spain. The strumming of the guitar, the rapid-fire rhythms of footwork against the floor, and the soft voice of the singer reac..

Duende Eludes FGO’s ‘Carmen’

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Written by: Fernando Landeros
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It is difficult to describe duende. Far from elf or goblin, in its literal translation from Spanish, it is the war of emotions being fought in our groin as we experience a work of art. Duende is irrational, sometimes dark, primal, and of course, supernatural. To have duende is to be able to invoke those forces from the soul, and make everyone present imbibe them.

Last Saturday evening, Florida Grand Opera opened its 75th season with Georges Bizet’s operatic masterpiece Carmen, a work that has duende boiling under its skin; but sadly, the cast could not bring it up to the surface.

Based on Prosper Mérimée’s eponymous novella about a Gypsy femme fatale taken to her death by her jealous lover, Carmen paints a masterful portrait of how passion devours our senses.

Unlike Mérimée, Bizet was never in Spain, and the music he composed for Carmen is very much French. He did, however, incorporate idioms used in flamenco music and a Spanish folk song or two for added flavor. Bizet’s genius lies in how well his music depicts the progression of emotions experienced by the characters throughout the work.

Carmen’s true protagonist is Don José, the lover that brings her to her tragic demise. He starts off as an honest army officer, who could have enjoyed a blissful life marrying his hometown sweetheart Micaëla. Instead he meets Carmen, the embodiment of vice, and quickly finds himself under her spell. He follows her into a life of crime, where his love for her turns into obsession and rage, and when she gets tired of him and finds a new lover, he surrenders to despair.

Don José is a strenuous role that stands tall against any verismo hero of Puccini or Mascagni. Puerto Rican tenor Rafael Dávilagot through it vocally, but could not convincingly portray his character’s emotional deterioration.

The spark between Dávila and Spanish mezzo-soprano María José Montiel, the evening’s Carmen, was not even big enough to light a match. Montiel knows exactly what to do with her glorious voice, but not so much with her striking body. Carmen exudes sex, and by the end of Act I, having sung “Habanera”and “Seguidilla,” everyone watching should have been aroused. Montiel remained refined throughout the performance.

Duende was awakened by choreographer Rosa Mercedes and her rivetingflamencodancers, starting with the “Gypsy Song” at the beginning of Act II. Their delivery was intoxicating, and left the stage polished for one of the most recognizable arias in all opera, the “Toreador Song.”

The role of the bullfighter Escamillo seems to be tailor made for bass-baritone Ryan Kuster. He has the dark colored voice and magnetism and he would have stolen the show, had he been audible. Kuster had not been fighting bulls but an infection, and was rendered powerless.

It was difficult to appreciate stage director Bernard Uzan’s vision for the drama with such a disjointed cast. Still, some of his creative questions could be heard. Right before the curtain rose, Uzan reduced Carmento a dead bull being dragged away after a fight. Then, choosing to end Act II with the music of the prelude to Act III, he tenderized her with an amorous ballet between her and Don José. Who is Carmen,really? A dangerous obsession? A perfectly balanced object of desire? The incarnation of duende? No one can know.

Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ presented by FGO, Friday, Nov. 18 and Saturday, Nov. 19 at 8:00 p.m., Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; and at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, on Thursday, Dec. 1 and Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $19 to $200; www.fgo.org.

 


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About The writer

Classical pianist, music writer

Fernando Landeros is a pianist who has performed throughout Mexico, the United States, Australia, Germany, and Austria. A native of San Diego, his..

About the Writer

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