I spent three and a half hours tonight watching an amateur (in the worst way) opera company's production of Carmen. Things got off to a bad start when the curtain raised on a set that was supertitled as "A Plaza in Seville" but was clearly Baja Mexico, complete with palm trees and a string of chiles hanging off the wall. And the costumes - there was absolutely not the least bit of attention to historical accuracy, the men had too much blush on (as did the women), and the "nice" female lead just looked like crap with her hair in a french braid. And who thought a two foot wide belt was a good fashion option? Did that say "gypsy?" And during the coastal-set "Carmen's Friends Strip a Boat" scene, some dude came out wearing a striped shirt and tights, and I said, "Look, Jason! It's a mime with a gun!"
And SO many things went wrong. The supertitles died in every act. (I wound up translating for my friend. "He loves her. She loves him." If only Micaela could have opened her mouth all the way so her French was understandable ...) The Matador guy (Escamillo) actually cleared his throat during his big solo (and was so big I figured the bulls would have finished him off long ago). (His costume was wretched, too; I wondered if he was fresh off shift as a waiter at Zinzanni, whereas shadowdaddy hypothesized he was actually a magician who performed in the stands at the ring.) People grabbed the scenery and used it to balance themselves. And at one point, I swear Carmen's two gal pals were staring into the pit in response to a particularly bad bit of violin noise.
I should say that most of the singing was just fine (else we would have left), and the flamenco dancing during the bar scene was lovely, but, GUYS! GUYS! A few more rehearsals, PLEASE! And is there any excuse for all of the off-key playing I heard coming from the orchestra pit!?!
Many people I knew were in this show (which is why we went), but we hurried out afterwards lest we be obliged to find something nice to say to them. My friend rehearsed her comments to our mutual aquaintances ("You should fix the supertitles, and you might want to practice your curtain call again"), but really, it's a good thing they're only running for two more shows.