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Show basks in Spanish heatwave

PUBLISHED: 22:18 12 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 March 2010

IT may have been cold outside but inside the Regent Theatre, the audience was caught in the grip of a simmering Spanish heatwave.

All the way from the former Soviet republic of Moldova, the touring Chisinau State Opera had appeared to bring the weather them (which caused a few problems with orchestral intonation, particularly among the brass) but not for long.

IT may have been cold outside but inside the Regent Theatre, the audience was caught in the grip of a simmering Spanish heatwave.

All the way from the former Soviet republic of Moldova, the touring Chisinau State Opera had appeared to bring the weather them (which caused a few problems with orchestral intonation, particularly among the brass) but not for long. As soon as the orchestra struck up and the curtains rose on the superb set more convincing in all its three guises than many a troupe-on-tour ever manage, Bizet's famous opera Carmen exploded like the polar opposite of a heat-seeking missile. Icy Ipswich was instantly plunged into the skirt-swirling fever of summer.

Tatiana Busuioc as the sultry man-eater Carmen sang her stockings off, juggling her catlike sensuality displayed so outrageously in her famous habanera showstopper with a volcanic spite that rumbles obdurately throughout as she travels to her doom. If love is an untamed bird, as she trilled in one of the opera's "greatest hits", this little vixen snaps and tears chunks off it with her comely jaws.

Nevertheless Don Jose (Alexei Repchinsky) succumbs to her irresistible charms as the mummy's boy who vows to repent of his wayward ways. But when he meets Carmen he meets a real mama. And what does he finally do? Stabs her. Freud would have a field day.

But this opera is judged an "opera comique" - the sheer quality of the whole production rests too on the comedic cogs whirring the action along. The sweet-voiced and sweetly-natured Natalia Josan as Micaela was wholly deserving of the audience's applause. And the finely executed intermezzo turns of the ballet dancers and the smugglers' quintet were a delight.

So hats off to the Moldovans as this was certainly a good time Carmen. I hope they come again.

James Fraser.

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