One of the most heartening theatrical developments in recent years has been the success of the Metropolitan Opera HD broadcasts. Now in its fifth season, these transmissions bring opera to audiences in locations far from the Met’s New York home base.
“Carmen in 3D” is a further extension of this concept. Bizet’s classic opera, originally devised by Francesca Zambello for London’s Royal Opera House and directed for film by Julian Napier, utilizes 3-D to bring us into the experience. (It will play beginning this weekend in 750 theaters across America and many more throughout the world.)
Two performances and one dress rehearsal of “Carmen” were filmed with a full-throated cast including Christine Rice as the temptress Carmen, Bryan Hymel as the spurned Don José, and Aris Argiris as the imperious Escamillo.
At 175 minutes, plus intermission, this “Carmen” is a long haul, and the 3-D doesn’t add appreciably to the wraparound intensity of Bizet’s score. Also, the subtitles are too small. But it’s worth the immersion – a great opera, beautifully sung and excitingly staged, is a movie rarity. And if this is still not enough “Carmen” for you, try renting Francesco Rosi’s great 1984 version with Julia Migenes-Johnson and Placido Domingo. Grade: B+ (Unrated.)