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Carmen La Cubana (c) Nilz Boehme

REVIEW | Carmen La Cubana | Sadler’s Wells

Inspired by the iconic opera Carmen, director Christopher Renshaw has reinvented the timeless story in this hot new production. The new musical is set in Havana on the eve of the Cuban revolution in 1958. With vibrant and fiery dance numbers, powerful music and infectious energy, it truly is a sizzling summer down at Sadler’s Wells this August.

The story of the irresistible Carmen is surrounded by love, obsession and sexual desire. When Carmen catches the eye of a soldier who does anything he can to pursue her, Carmen wants to flee her small hometown for the bright lights of Havana.

With an all-Cuban cast, 14 piece Cuban band, Spanish lyrics and book and Bizet’s classic score completely ‘Cubanised’ for this simmering new production, you feel as if you have just stepped into Cuba. The musical arrangements and orchestration by Hamilton and In The Height’s two-time Tony Award-winning Alex Lacamoire, prove to be a huge success. The spicy soundtrack featuring songs such as Habanera, is passionate, soulful and oozing with charm

Luna Manzanares Nardo is radiant as the saucy, seductive Carmen. With a fearless attitude and fiery spirit, Nardo encapsulates the role with every inch of her character. With sensuous movement and sublime vocals, it’s hard to take your eyes off Nardo’s captivating stage presence. Falling desperately in love with her, Saeed Mohamed Valdés as José has a dark, alluring quality that creates great intrigue. As his love translates to obsession, Valdés creates electric chemistry with Nardo that is entrancing to watch unravel.

Looming over the story is the character of La Señora who sets the scene and narrates the story throughout. Her bold and gutsy singing is a sheer delight and adds texture to the production as she interjects each scene with her narrative.

    

      

With a live band that create an incredibly vibrant energy, it literally feels as if we are taken back to Cuba with these authentic Latino tones. Mirroring this, Roclan González Chávez’s choreography blends the Spanish flavour of everything from cha-cha-cha to mambo, rumba and salsa. The ensemble numbers are simply breath-taking as the explosive energy from the cast is sensational. 

Performed completely in Spanish with subtitles, I never expected to love such a unique production. Sadler’s Wells ambitious production of Carmen La Cubana blends their rich history in high-quality dance with opera and musical theatre to create a show perfect for any kind of theatre lover. The hot and rhythmic production transports you to the bright lights and colours of Cuba.

★★★★

    

 

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