Every generation has a work that describes the phenomenon—most recently Hollywood called it Fatal Attraction—but for opera lovers it's always been known as Carmen. When the passion that exists between two persons becomes a one-way street, watch out! And that is exactly what Carmen tells anyone who'll listen to her famous opening aria: Love is a wild bird that no one can tame / Love is a gypsy child that never follows the rule / But if I love you, watch out!

However, in Central City Opera's current production of Georges Bizet's classic, director Ned Canty's choices mute this unbridled passion, instead turning Carmen's free spirited flightiness into calculated brinkmanship. While this detracts from the believability of her flings with the soldier Don Jose and the toreador Escamillo, the voices of the principals and the great music nevertheless carry the day.

Photo of Don Jose <br>(Tonio Di Paolo) and <br>Carmen (Jane Gilbert)
Don José (Tonio Di Paolo) swears
his love for Carmen (Jane Gilbert)
Photo by Mark Kiryluk
Jane Gilbert, in the title role, has all the capabilities of a great Carmen: she is beautiful and her voice is able to express all the shades of heavenly and earthly delights her heart harbors. Tonio Di Paolo, though not as dashing as one might expect as the object of the comely Carmen's affections, makes a strong case for his passion in the "Flower" aria and in the final scene. And while Grant Youngblood's Escamillo is less than convincing, Elena Kolganova wins our sympathy as the devoted Michaela. The festival orchestra does exemplary work with Bizet's memorable score and the ensemble from the Colorado Children's Chorale is a treat.

Central City Opera's Carmen runs in repertory with Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Hoiby's Summer and Smoke through August 11th. 303-292-6700.

Bob Bows


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