Grisey, Dufourt, Boulez and… Beethoven? It might have been an inspired programming choice, the intricate orchestration of the contemporary French works contrasting with the directness of Beethoven’s textures. However, it was this much-loved audience favourite which proved to be the weak link in what was otherwise an excellent performance from the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Ilan Volkov at the Barbican.
In the programme for Bizet’s Carmen, Kasper Holten (Director of Opera at ROH) remarks that the title character is a mysterious figure, and that “we can never really know who she is”. This seemed ironic: even at the end of the opera, I was not left with a clear idea of which aspects of this complex character (or, indeed, of Don José) this production wanted to bring out.