The Battle of the Carmens

Why oh why am I doing this to myself? This is wayy too early in the morning to be up but I’ll be out all day tomorrow which means that I’ll miss all the figure skating events. As a result, I don’t think I’ll be covering the competitions in Skate Canada though I may do a post on a few highlights.

In any case, I’m pretty sure that if you’re following the GP series that you know that I’m not referring to the Battle of the Carmens at the 1988 Olympics between Katarina Witt and Debi Thomas. This new battle is between two ice dance teams and winning this battle will actually determine the winner of Skate Canada, unlike as previously thought.

In any case, the anticipation should be high for the free dance at Skate Canada. Reigning World Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are in a virtual tie – leading by 0.01 points – with Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte. It’s a bit of an unusual situation and it seemed as if there were a lot of downgrades since the lack of distance between these two teams is really down to Tessa and Scott’s low technical elements score (TES). In a normal situation, Tessa and Scott would be leading by 5 to 10 points but unfortunately, they can’t rely on that lead to get them gold here.

I’ve already done a post on my thoughts of Cappellini & Lanotte’s Carmen. If you’re too lazy to read it, I’ll summarize it here: Anna and Luca’s Carmen is a very traditional one about the passion and the drama. Unfortunately, it fails to capture the complexity of Carmen as a character outside of her role as a seductress. And I hate the fact that Anna as Carmen dies at the end with a look of agony on her face. To end my blurb on this program, I’ll post this excerpt from the opera in Act IV when Carmen meets Don Jose and knows that her death is drawing near:

L’on m’avait avertie
que tu n’étais pas loin, que tu devais venir;
l’on m’avait mÍme dit de craindre pour ma vie;
mais je suis brave! je n’ai pas voulu fuir!

– Carmen

This season, Tessa and Scott decided to go for a more contemporary/modern dance interpretation of Carmen. They remark upon a few differences between the usual interpretation of Carmen and their interpretation in this article: “In the end of our story, it’s Carmen who has the power and she has her freedom; and Scott’s character, Don Jose, is just ruined.” Well, you could say that even in death, Carmen is triumphant: she is still free which is what she values most and Don Jose, who according to Carmen’s card predictions will die soon after her, is a man who has lost everything – his mother, his position in the army, the lover who he held so much passion for and most likely, Micaela, a potential wife who truly loved him and a symbol of his peaceful and “pure” past life. So Tessa, just because Carmen dies doesn’t mean she “lost” in any way.

What I do like about this interpretation is that it is the closest to what I think is Carmen, the entire character in Bizet’s opera (Prospere Merimee – sorry for the lack of accents – who wrote the original story had created an even more complex character it seems) – not Carmen the seductress or Carmen the gypsy. Carmen and the entirety of spirit.

I suppose I’ll end with a quote again from the opera, this time from a section that isn’t used very much in programs though Tessa and Scott do use it extensively. This moment comes at the end of Act II when Don Jose is freed from jail and is about to leave the tavern Lillas Pastias (and Carmen):

Ah!  le mot n’est pas galant,
mais qu’ importe!
Va, tu t’y feras quand tu verras
comme c’est beau, la vie errante,
pour pays, l’univers,
et pour loi, sa volonté,
et surtout, la chose enivrante:
La liberté!  la liberté!

– Carmen

Who do you think will win the Battle of the Carmens at Skate Canada?

~The Rinkside Cafe

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