Find out what critics have been saying about Jamie Manton’s production of Calixto Bieito’s opera.

(c)Tristram Kenton

Broadway World: **** “Carmen is multifaceted, and Hasan carves the score’s finer details with nimble fidelity. Ginger Costa-Jackson’s Carmen’s “Habanera” is escorted with a luxurious silky-smooth timbre that elevates her intoxicating sensuousness away from the testosterone fuelled earthiness of the first act.”

The Stage: ***** “Shimmering production of Bizet’s opera is a stunning testament to the English National Opera’s strengths.”

The Guardian: **** “But everything revolves around Carmen. Ginger Costa-Jackson, another ENO debutant, is magnetic. She sings in a strong, wine-dark mezzo-soprano and knows how to hold the stage through stillness. In her Habanera and her other big solos she never seems rushed; the world goes at her pace, thanks to the subtle breathing space that Kerem Hasan’s conducting affords her, and the precision of the orchestra’s response. They, the enlarged chorus, and indeed the whole company, are on fighting form.”

iNews: *** “The chorus – adults and children – are outstanding, the heart we need in a cool, cynical staging. Revival director Jamie Manton finds the flow lacking elsewhere in the crowd scenes, which surge and swarm with life, drawing cheers (even the odd voice joining in – a woman behind me had a brief go at the Toreador Song) from the youthful opening night crowd. I’m not sure that’s quite what the company’s “Opera for Everyone” message had in mind, but it certainly catches the rebellious spirit of Bieito’s Carmen.

London Unattached: “Anyone who still thinks opera is elitist and out of touch should get a ticket for this production of Carmen.  With so many memorable numbers and with an action-packed story sung in English, this is a production that everyone should enjoy.  The cast is superb – so many young stars, from the three excellent Harewood artists, Benson Wilson, Alexandra Oomens and Innocent debut artist Carrie-Ann Williams to the outstanding leads Ginger Costa-Jackson and Sean Panikkar. Happy birthday English National Opera!”

The FT: **** “Ginger Costa-Jackson plays Carmen as a modern girl, no vamp or caricatured gypsy. Although her voice is only just big enough for this theatre, it is keen, bright and has fire in the lower notes, which she is inclined to overplay. Sean Panikkar returns to the production with the vocal challenges of Don José well sorted and builds the role to a heat of passion. ENO is lucky to have him.”

Family Affairs and Other Matters: “Kerem Hasan’s conducting of the ENO orchestra is faultless. He gets the tempo and mood just right for every scene. The chorus is wonderful. Every crowd scene sparkles with life and vivacity. Director Jamie Manton has put together a clear and compelling vision to shape and present the opera so as to be both entertaining for a contemporary audience and true to the original. I was very impressed with the vocal range of the four principal performers. They can all project so that they can be heard throughout the considerable space of the Coliseum. This may seem obvious but I have been to productions where this isn’t so. A special mention for Carrie-Ann Williams on her debut singing the role of Micaela. One of her lines was about not being scared of Carmen. She clearly took those words onboard as she showed no fear on stage last night.”

British Theatre Guide: “The standout performances are Panikkar and soprano Carrie-Ann Williams (a last-minute replacement for Gemma Summerfield), who sings Micaëla come to fetch him to his sick mother’s bedside. Their lyrical duet is lovely, and when he sings of his mother’s face and nostalgia for home, it has something of Bizet’s Pearl Fishers duet. But he has no time for that, consumed as he is with his cursed passion. Panikkar makes a handsome lead and is a fine actor—one believes in him totally, his arias are absolutely wonderful. Both get deserved ovations.”

Culture Whisper: **** “Nmon Ford is a strutting Escamillo. And there is a starring role for a fleet of bashed-up old Mercedes, in Alfons Flores’ clever design, with its hints at the squalor that thrives on the neglect of a nation. But it is the full-throttle chorus, as that nation’s repressed people, alongside the irrepressible youngsters of London schools, and the players of the ENO orchestra, that underpin this power-packed production, conducted with spirit by Kerem Hassan.”

Bachtrack: **** “Nmon Ford played Escamillo like a celebrity footballer, sharp-suited and suave, but was distinctly underpowered in his lower register. Keel Watson, a convincing Zuniga in the last run, seemed a less menacing brute and more of a caricature this time round. Alexandra Oomens and Niamh O’Sullivan both made an impact as Frasquita and Mercédès. ENO’s chorus was as rousingly splendid as always, their performance in Act 4 particularly vivid. In the end however, despite the excellent cast, it was Bieito’s concept that remained in the mind; in an age when the arts are measured on “relevance”, his production ticks every box.”

Carmen continues to play at the London Coliseum until the 24th February. You can book tickets here.