Anticipating a new production arriving on New Year’s Eve, Chris’s Cache explores earlier Met encounters with Bizet’s Carmen starring Shirley Verrett, Marilyn Horne, Régine Crespin and Olga Borodina respectively stabbed by Jon Vickers, James McCracken, Placido Domingo and Roberto Alagna.

Today’s collection features souvenirs of three previous Met productions of Carmen: the Barrault for Verrett; Opening Night of the Gentele with Horne plus a repeat with Crespin; and finally the overstuffed Zeffirelli for Borodina.

You can hear Verrett’s Met debut performing a role she never again sang with the company after the 68-69 season. Horne’s Carmen under Leonard Bernstein is familiar from the Deutsche Grammophon studio recording but the live performance may offer a more exciting perspective. Crespin, Katia Ricciarelli and José van Dam appeared together in a Saturday broadcast with William Lewis substituting for Domingo; today’s pirate features the latter captured on a previous evening. Both Borodina and Alagna eventually sang their roles for Saturday broadcasts but not together, plus René Pape never returned to sing Escamillo after this 2000 run.

The world appears to be betting that Aigul Akhmetshina is THE Carmen of the 2020s: after her Met engagement, she stars in new productions of the Bizet work at both Covent Garden (her second new production of Carmen there) and the Glyndebourne Festival. The Met premiere will not be streamed but the second performance on January 3rd will be and the subject of a parterre box chat then.

Bizet: Carmen

Carmen: Shirley Verrett
Micaëla: Mirella Freni
Frasquita: Lilian Sukis
Mercédès: Marcia Baldwin
Don José: Jon Vickers
Escamillo: Justino Diaz
Remendado: Robert Schmorr
Dancaïre: Robert Goodloe
Zuniga: Morley Meredith
Moralès: Russell Christopher

Conductor: Zubin Mehta
Metropolitan Opera
21 September 1968
In-house recording

Carmen: Marilyn Horne
Micaëla: Adriana Maliponte
Frasquita: Colette Boky
Mercédès: Marcia Baldwin
Don José: James McCracken
Escamillo: Tom Krause
Remendado: Andrea Velis
Dancaïre: Russell Christopher
Zuniga: Donald Gramm
Moralès: Raymond Gibbs
Lillias Pastia: Paul Franke

Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
Metropolitan Opera
19 September 1972
In-house recording

Carmen: Régine Crespin
Micaëla: Katia Ricciarelli
Frasquita: Alma Jean Smith
Mercédès: Marcia Baldwin
Don José: Plácido Domingo
Escamillo: José Van Dam
Remendado: Andrea Velis
Dancaïre: Russell Christopher
Zuniga: Richard Best
Moralès: Gene Boucher
Lillias Pastia: Paul Franke

Conductor: Henry Lewis
Metropolitan Opera
5 December 1975
In-house recording

Carmen: Olga Borodina
Micaëla: Norah Amsellem
Frasquita: Emily Pulley
Mercédès: Jossie Pérez
Don José: Roberto Alagna
Escamillo: René Pape
Remendado: Anthony Laciura
Dancaïre: David Malis
Zuniga: James Courtney
Moralès: Troy Cook

Conductor: Bertrand de Billy
Metropolitan Opera
October/November 2000
In-house recording

Each Met Carmen can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a box with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

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