We humans do love our rituals. When an extended family gathers for the holidays, familiar traditions promise a comforting respite from an increasingly complex, chaotic world. Still, realistically, troubles and fears refuse to be left behind. They surface like unwelcome guests. So do resentments and stinging remarks born of deep knowledge. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, you wonder: ..
After a tryout run in Chicago, 34 previews and 746 performances on Broadway, and a tour launch in Buffalo, “On Your Feet!” has finally opened in the place where Cuban-born music superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan made their dreams come true: Miami. At Friday’s red carpet opening at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, with the Estefans and their extended family in atte..
Whether the comedy is high or low, performer-writer Steve Martin has been making moviegoers, “Saturday Night Live” fans and theater lovers laugh for more than half a century – hard to believe it’s been that long, but he started early. Martin’s way with both cerebral jokes and physical comedy is abundantly on display in “The Underpants,” his 2002 adaptation of Carl Sternheim’s once-ban..
Robert Schenkkan’s “Building the Wall” begins as a wary conversation between two strangers: Rick, a white male convict awaiting a likely death sentence, and Gloria, a black female historian and college professor. For 90 minutes, the two talk. She probes; he explains and justifies and slowly paints a picture of a man-made Seventh Circle of Hell. By the time the play ends, the audience ..
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ award-winning play “An Octoroon” layers an antebellum melodrama with 21st-century parlance and perspective. The result is an innovative play-within-a-play that skillfully reminds us of slavery’s horrible past and its ever-present legacy. Area Stage Company’s production, thoughtfully directed by John Rodaz, brings together a talented cast to ensure this melodra..
Even before the election that transformed billionaire reality TV star Donald J. Trump into the 45th president of the United States, playwright Robert Schenkkan was so disturbed by the candidate’s anti-immigrant rhetoric that he decided to respond. Not with a Tweet. Not with an opinion-page essay. The Pulitzer Prize winner spoke back to candidate Trump with a full-length play. “Building..
“Baño de Luna,” written and directed by Pulitzer-prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz and presented by Arca Images and the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, marks the debut of the Spanish-language version of “Bathing in Moonlight,” the original English production that debuted at the prestigious McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., in 2016. Performed by a stellar cast in Spanish..
Rafael Nofal’s play “El tiempo de la mandarinas” (“Season for Tangerines”) tackles the very relevant and disturbing theme of human trafficking. Produced by Antiheroes Project, this moving play is in its last week at Artefactus Teatro, a well-purposed black box and gallery space in a smattering of warehouses in Kendall. Nofal’s text removes overt violence and male characters fr..
Joshua Harmon’s savagely funny “Bad Jews” is an emotional cage match set in a pricey Manhattan studio apartment. The combatants are Daphna Feygenbaum (Hannah Benitez), a soon-to-be Vassar grad who plans to move to Israel, marry a man no one in the family has met and become a rabbi, and her cousin Liam Haber (Joseph Paul Pino), a master’s degree candidate and atheist who intends to..
The play begins, as it must, with the velvet voice of Nat King Cole crooning “Mona Lisa.” After all, how many paintings inspire an Oscar-winning song? For that matter, how many masterpieces survive damage, theft and the rapacious covetousness of collectors for more than half a millennium? Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Gioconda,” popularly known as the Mona Lisa, is that inspi..
A 50th anniversary calls for gold in celebration. But Balanchine’s “Jewels”—a sublime marriage of music and choreography from 1967—brings Emeralds, Rubies,and Diamonds. Those pre..
When the Limon Dance Company returns to Miami-Dade this weekend, it brings with it the powerful vision of founder José Limon. He was a man deeply concerned about and connected to the humanity..
When Cardi B, with her trademark no-filter attitude, raps in her recent hit “Bodak Yellow” – Now I don’t got to dance/I make money move – she has something to sing about, with her smash hit N..
Despite a packed show schedule, including performing with the Frankfurt Opera in “Rinaldo,” Sarasota native, dancer and choreographer James McGinn had a chance to discuss the upcoming dance-opera ..
Anniversaries usually celebrate the success of a partnership with symbolic gifts of crystal, china, silver and gold. For the Arts Ballet Theater of Florida, the company celebrates 20 years of..
The songs are familiar; the love story is also familiar but made fresh in “On Your Feet!,” the musical biography that comes to Miami this week. The narrative of Emilio and Gloria Estefan meet..
Dance lovers in Miami know that for the past two decades the International Ballet Festival of Miami (IBFM) has made the city in September a magnet for the brightest stars in the world of bal..
Orlando Taquechel, dance critic for two decades at the El Nuevo Herald (and now a contributor to Artburst), will have a book signing and discussion of his new book, “La danza in Miami (1998-..
The name Flamenco conjures the machine-gun snap of heels, arms arched overhead, the flick of red fabric and laser-like glares from beneath the starched black brim of a Cordobes hat. At the ed..
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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