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Babcock's Beyond Carmen at UFOMT "simply fabulous"

If you’re already enamored of mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock as Aldonza in the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha and in the title role of the opera Carmen, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

In Beyond Carmen – Ms. Babcock’s pas de deux with classical guitarist Andrés Vadin – she delivered a sultry, beguiling, seductive vocal performance at the Ellen Eccles Theatre on July 26.

Ms. Babcock’s singing was simply fabulous.

Although Georges Bizet’s Carmen was a Gypsy, recent scholarship has suggested that Prosper Mérimée derived his inspiration for the original femme fatale from a Separadim, a Hispanic Jew.

The majority of Separadim were expelled from Spain in the late 15th Century¸ but those few that remained acquired an exotic reputation in the minds of the Spanish.

Ms. Babcock chooses to interpret her Carmen as Sephardic, so she performed Beyond Carmen singing in French and Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish dialect.

The result, she said, was a night of songs and music that Carmen and her fellow smugglers might have sung around a campfire – bewitching songs that expressed what it means to be fiercely female and free.

Ms. Babcock delivered stunning vocals as she explored Ladino folk songs and lullaby’s, all leading up to the Bizet’s familiar “Habanera,” followed by a taste of flamenco as an encore.

It was a spellbinding experience, to which the modest crowd at the Ellen Eccles Theatre responded with an enthusiastic standing ovation.

Ms. Babcock’s partner in Beyond Carmen – the incomparable guitarist Andrés Vadin — is a native of Cuba and a graduate from the Guillermo Tomas and Amadeo Roldan Conservatory of Music. He developed a passion for jazz, rock, flamenco and classical music at a young age, moving with total ease from each of those genres to another.

They have performed Beyond Carmen together numerous times in multiple venues.

Following her performance, Ms. Babcock graciously thanked the theater’s production crew (lighting designer Jordyn Cozart; sound designer Tyler Berg; tech director Brent Innes; prop master Alex Graham; and stage managers Quinn Morgan and Amanda Johnson) and UFOMT founding director Michael Ballam.

Ms. Babcock has performed the role of Carmen more than 100 times, cementing her reputation as the fiercest of femme fatales in opera circles.

– Cache Valley Daily

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