Bizet – Carmen / Mats Ek, The Cullberg Ballet

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Escamillo: YVAN AUZELY

With the hot glow of her cigar, the piercing intensity of her gaze, and her unabashed sexuality, Carmen radiates defiance. She's a woman who knows what she wants and is ruthless in pursuing it. She takes and discards lovers as she pleases. Mats Ek's International Emmy Award-winning version of the fiery tale of passion and murderous jealousy is an exciting, suspenseful mix of bravura dancing and inventive, powerful storytelling. Set to Rodion Shchedrin's Carmen Suite, the Russian composer's arrangement of Bizet's perenially popular opera music, this stylish production features award-winning dancer Ana Laguna as a mesmerizing and irresistible Carmen, with Yvan Auzely and Marc Hwang as her rival lovers: macho bullfighter Escamillo and romantic young soldier Jose.

Choreography MATS EK
Technical Director NICKE NYQUIST
Set and Costume Designer MARIE-LUISE EKMAN

Product Details

  • Actors: Ana Laguna, Marc Hwang
  • Directors: Mats Ek
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR Not Rated
  • Studio: KULTUR VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: May 26, 2009
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • ASIN: B001URA63S

Customer Reviews

Absolutely mesmerizingl!

One person found this helpful.
 on June 6, 2011
By Hilary Bein
Very sensual, unusual interpretation. My only complaint is that the camera work drove me nuts because it didn’t seem to be able to take in the whole stage at once and sections where one should be able to view the whole core in ensemble pieces remain focused on a small part of the stage. Ana Laguna is perfection.


 on November 12, 2015
By Calicokid
A fine performance of this favorite opera.


 on November 21, 2011
By Elezer Negron
Iam completed disagreed with the last written review of this Carmen. Opera in itself is like a “Pandora Box”.

Bizet – Carmen / Mats Ek, The Cullberg Ballet

 on November 15, 2011
I’m not a big fan of ballet beyond the Nutcracker Suite and Swan Lake during the Christmas season…but when I stumbled across this ballet being shown on local TV station, I couldn’t bnelieve my eyes. The Cullberg Ballet dancers perform intricate movements, graceful as can be. I had to order this DVD for my collection.

The Setting Outshines The Singing.

5 people found this helpful.
 on April 16, 2006
By next chapter books
The venue provides more impact upon an audience than the performance with this 1998 filming of Bizet’s great opera, a DVD issue that, although purportedly rich in sound technique, does not marry such to the actual recording. This particularly colourful rendition of Carmen is performed upon what likely is the grandest open-air stage that Europe offers, within the Roman quarry at St. Margarethen, Austria, a home site for passion plays each five years since 1926, the basin’s over 40 metre high walls providing acoustical pleasure to those who celebrate bright sound realisations of musical theatre such as this one enacted during the locale’s annual operatic festival. Director Gianfranco de Bosio, erstwhile pilot of the Verona Festival that, along with the presentations at Bregenz, are the sole outdoor operatic events that currently attract larger audiences than those at St. Margarethen, gathers as is his wont a large international ensemble that executes viscerally satisfying effects and interludes that are referent to traditions of commedia dell’arte that de Bosio favours, including choral offerings by the voices of the Stagione d’Opera Italiana and Honved-Ensemble Budapest, in addition to dancers from MHS Rosenthal Eisenstadt and Flamenco Tanztheater Barcelona. This performance was received well and is a prime reason that the Festival has become a cardinal cultural event in Continental Europe, with de Bosio’s idiosyncratic staging of Bizet’s dramatic masterpiece largely responsible for its success at St. Margarethen, as he cannily maneuvers over 400 performers (and a contingent of horses!) although the opera interpretation itself is only patchily pleasing. Musically, Malgorzata Walewska is comfortable in the role of Carmen, and her able acting is of merit, making up this night for a rather light mezzo, while the closest to a star performance comes from lyric tenor Mario Malagnini as Don Jose, a role that he has taken on more than any other, and whereas there are moments when it would appear that he is acting by rote, his intonation is always splendid, his enunciation impeccable. Boaz Senator as the toreador Escamillo initially has some breath difficulty that he overcomes but his playing is wooden throughout as is that of Ulrike Sonntag as Micaela; she, however, is in excellent voice, with but a single clinker. A majority of the supporting cast sings capably, with Susanna Fulop a standout as Frasquita. The Stagione d’Opera Italiana orchestra is led wonderfully well by Giorgio Croci in the many thrilling passages by Bizet, and lighting is dramatically effective as is most of a wide range of costumes, despite an uncomfortable fact that those garments worn by Walewska, beautiful in themselves, are less than complimentary to her. This is the abridged version of the opera that utilizes recitatives, amended many times since the originals by Bizet’s friend Guiraud that have served in lieu of the composer’s dialogue, but additionally there are numerous idiosyncratic alterations to the libretto while entire richly musical sequences have regrettably been excised from this shortened performance. The DVD is not a model for others to follow, as it is found wanting in several areas. Promised extras upon the package are a “Making Of” clip, interviews, and a synopsis in six languages, none of which is present. There is a brief documentary upon Bizet’s composition of Carmen and its first performance, in German with English narration, but it is of minimal consequence. A sound choice is supposedly offered between Dolby 5.1 and stereo, but in fact they are the same, and distortion is present in the overture. In summation, an audience must essentially rely for pleasure here upon the well-beloved music of Bizet along with glimpses of de Bosio’s elaborate stagecraft and these are surely enough to warrant a repeat showing.

golden age Bolshoi artists

10 people found this helpful.
 on April 19, 2004
By Alejandra Vernon
Born in 1925, Maya Plisetskaya was one of the great dancers of the 20th century, known for her brilliant performances, her technical skill and her ability to soar in the air with her huge jumps. She towered above the other prima ballerinas of her era in height, and outshone many with her dynamic personality. It is hard to say when the ballets on this tape were filmed, but I would venture to guess that it was a lot later than when I saw her in 1959, on the first tour she was allowed to make with the Bolshoi Ballet, to dance in New York City. There are no huge jumps here, but it is nevertheless wonderful, and shows tremendous artistry.

Reviews for incorrect discs

3 people found this helpful.
 on September 23, 2014
By Andrew Hill
Just a not on the reviews. Many are written for the opera DVD, NOT THIS BALLET. I really wish amazon would have reviews matched with the discs advertised.

A must see, a must have

7 people found this helpful.
 on June 20, 2001
For anyone who understands what Maya Plisetskaya is to ballet – it’s a must have. The whole length “Carmen-Suite” is amazing! Everything is very well put together: the music (rearranged by no other than Rodion Shchedrin, Maya’s husband), the choreography by Alberto Alonso, the set design, the costumes and of course the dancers. This production is so avant-garde and so ahead of it’s time, that it’s timeless. Maya Plisetskaya is the supreme ballerina among the supreme. She possesses all of the aspects required of a ballerina: artistry, technique and musical interpretation, which to this day haven’t been surpassed by any other dancer. She makes you believe that she is the character of her ballet not just another role that she is performing.

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