When deciding to go to see an ‘opera’ entitled Carmen, one would think they are going to a great masterpiece filled with drama, expressive costumes and those fantastic, classic, operatic pieces of music like L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Habanera). The Theaterdiscounter however, provides the audience with something entirely different. With an ensemble of only five musicians dressed in identical plain grey suits playing children’s instruments, the solo actress Flora Pulina commences the performance by mocking their own production; she address the musicians individually asking if they have each piece of the orchestra, which they clearly do not. She appears disapproving of this incompleteness, as well as the fact that she is performing alone without any of the other characters from the traditional piece. Following this, she then expresses the want to break away from a conventional Carmen by Georges Bizet and a typical theatre set-up. Pulling back the curtain which she is stood in front of, Pulina calls the audience to venture across the stage into a make-shift white room.
From then on with the audience sat on the floor in the middle of this room, Pulina performs alone on the raised stage all around them. While the performance is a little stale at times, it is quite comical in other places. Pulina continuously returns to mock and gimmick the original opera Carmen, playing clips on a television and over-dramatically imitating it. The musical direction also gimmicks the original score throughout the piece, with one particularly hilarious, almost dubstep remix which Pulina raps to.
The rest of the performance is quite up and down, with a contrast of quiet moments filled only with Pulina’s monolgue against bursts of dramatic emotion. While the set is as minimalist as it can get, the lighting is quite effective in drawing out those points of extremity. The piece is brought to climatic close with a melodramatic simulated fight that Pulina pulls off excessively well — playing both the attacker and victim simultaneously whilst the ensemble vigorously play their version of Toréador Song in accompaniment. Overall, it is an interesting piece and certainly very different.
Carmen is premiering tonight at Theaterdiscounter and will be on until 28th February. For more information, watch the trailer here and for ticket information, click here.