From the Chicago Sun-Times, March 15, 2000:
‘Carmen’ at Lyric Opera
By Wynne Delacoma,
It hardly seems possible, but Lyric Opera’s riveting new production of Bizet’s “Carmen” has become even more passionate than it was on opening night a month ago.
Monday night, Italian soprano Carla Maria Izzo made an impressive Lyric debut as Micaela. Her voice is strong and bright, even in the role’s demanding lower register. She was somewhat stiff in the first act, but the combination of gentleness and steely resolve that emerged in Act III transformed Micaela from a long-suffering cipher into a moral force to be reckoned with.
She may have been energized by the electricity that seemed to be flowing from every person onstage. Lyric Opera Center alumnus David Cangelosi was a tightly wound bundle of menace as the bandit chieftain Dancaire. Handling a gun with ease, giving a disgusted half-swoon at the mention of Don Jose’s mother, he was the very image of an experienced professional tired of dealing with a high-maintenance mama’s boy.
Mark S. Doss was more relaxed and expansive as the toreador Escamillo than he had been opening night. Manipulating his fame to the hilt, he moved into Carmen’s life with the vain, ironic stride of a rock star.
Denyce Graves as Carmen and Richard Leech as Don Jose were fearless, taking their roles to the brink vocally and dramatically, and emerging triumphant.
Graves’ Carmen was even more vivid, a masterful study of a fearless woman who needs to prove nothing. As Carmen slipped from his grasp, Don Jose’s desperate anger was frightening to watch.