Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Batavia Madrigal Singers (BMS), the Indonesian vocal ensemble organised the opera Carmen, claimed by many as the first complete opera to be played in Indonesia. BMS itself has won many awards from various international choral competitions, and the choir wasn’t new to me since I’ve seen them performing when composer Pierre Oser staged the world premiere of his new composition for the silent film Nosferatu back in 2012. And I happened to be classmates with a (then) choir member at the Institut Français.
There were only two shows on 16 and 17 April; I went to see the one on 17. The tickets sold fast, and both shows sold out a week before the opening.
Actress Happy Salma acted as on-stage narrator to familiarise the Indonesian audience with the story. The cast featured Indonesia’s renowned opera singers with extensive international experience. Heny Janawati, who played Carmen, had performed the role in the Czech Republic seven years earlier. The shows itself apparently emphasised more on the singing. The orchestra pit was moved onto the stage, surrounded by a circle ramp. The stage props were kept to the minimum and the costumes were rather simple. Nonetheless, it was an amazing performance by brilliant cast. I think it was a highly successful introduction to complete opera to the Indonesian audience. Looking forward to another opera here in Jakarta!
Ciputra Artpreneur Theatre, Jakarta
17 April 2016
Carmen: Heny Janawati
Don José: Farman Purnama
Escamillo: Harland P. Hutabarat
Micaëla: Birgitta Dewi Sisca Puspita