When Donizetti’s comedy, updated to the mid-20th century by the Uruguayan-born director Mario Gas, was mounted at Barcelona’s magnificent Liceu opera house in 2005, Opera News wrote that: “The absolute hit of the production was … Rolando Villazón, a commanding, vulnerable and hilarious Nemorino. His stage presence dominated every scene he was in …[and] his lovable innocence was a joy to behold. Villazón’s perfect technique and creamy, malleable voice conquered the audience … His athletic and expressive body language–midway between Cantinflas and Mr. Bean–fits this role and this production perfectly.” The Mexican tenor, making his debut at the Liceu, was called upon the encore the opera’s most famous aria, the plaintive ‘Una furtiva lagrima’.
Musically, the production is excellent. Béatrice Uria-Monzon is a smart…Roberto Alagna is in excellent voice, too, offering honeyed tones that never disguise his passion or his potential for violence…Erwin Schrott is an impressively self-confident Escamillo…The other roles are well handled-and Marc Piollet and the orchestra provide a high-contrast palette, with plenty of detail and vitality. Sound is first-rate, as is clarity of the picture; and the patient and luxurious camerawork avoids the hyperactivity that mars so many opera videos these days. All in all, then, a very good Carmen… (Fanfare)