My Year of Opera: U-Carmen eKhayelitsha

Netflix suggested this film and I’m glad it did. Netflix is good for many thing but opera isn’t really one of them. Back in the early days, the DVD-era Netflix had some opera but now the streaming offerings are quite hit and miss. This telling of Carmen, set in South Africa and translated entirely into Xhosa, was pretty cool.

I think the setting worked extremely well and provided the most believable opera on film experience I’ve seen this year. The people looked like normal people, not opera singers. The singing blended in quite well to the drama and story and the translation (based on the subtitles, anyway) made the text relevant in a contemporary sense while still preserving the essence of the original. I’m sure a little more research would yield if the actors did their own singing but I didn’t dig that deep. Everyone’s voice fit, though, so if they didn’t do their own singing they found amazing vocal matches. I don’t think it is a vocal performance that will blow anyone away but the drama, setting, and acting were top notch.

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