Escamillo in “Carmen” at Greensboro Opera

January 26th, 2017

“Debonair baritone David Pershall brought to the arrogant, self-assured toreador Escamillo precisely the vocal and histrionic panache that the rôle requires. Already a seasoned artist among whose leading ladies in theatres throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Opera and Wiener Staatsoper, are luminaries such as Nelly Miricioiu and Anna Netrebko, Pershall gave Escamillo—a character who, when sung by unimaginative vocalists, can all too easily devolve into a cipher in sequins—a bravado-driven presence. His entrance in Act Two, heralded by the chorus, is one of the most memorable in opera, and Pershall’s confident, ringing performance of the famous Chanson du toréro, ‘Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre,’ was unforgettable. The baritone’s impactful top Fs electrified the auditorium more reliably than the power grid, and his top G in the Act Three duet with José, initiated with a smugly ironic ‘Quelques lignes plus bas et tout était fini,’ wielded a force like Krakatoa’s. In the Act Four scene before the bullfight, Pershall’s singing throbbed with swagger and raw masculinity, but there was also genuine tenderness in his conversation with Carmen. There was a loving heart beneath the proud exterior. This, as with Whittington’s Micaëla, sharpened appreciation of both the character and the artist portraying him. In Spanish culture, great matadors have often been among the most popular celebrities, and Pershall enriched Greensboro Opera’s Carmen with an Escamillo worthy of the front pages of El mundo and El país.”

“David Pershall was the acclaimed bull-fighter, Escamillo – handsome, suave, and as popular with the on-stage crowds as with the audience. The “Toréador” song is one of the most famous and familiar in the opera repertory, and a crowd-pleaser in the UNCG Auditorium as well.”