Wednesday, February 17, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 95

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About the Cougar

Orchestra X updates Bizet

By S.L. Allen
Daily Cougar Staff

Orchestra X, no relation to Malcom, is a new ensemble on the Houston classical music scene. As its name suggests, Orchestra X is devoted to the advancement of education and appreciation of classical music among Generation Xers.

Its new production of <I>Carmen<P> was a bold step in orchestral performance.

To provide an authentic mood, the show was held in the abandoned Spanish market the Americas, just inside 2nd Ward. Unfortunately, the Americas is not heated, but Orchestra X made up for it with heaters and blankets.

The greatest irony of Orchestra X is that its audience is typically the same crowd you will find at the opera Downtown: wealthy, older people who begot Generation X.

I wasn't sure what bothered them more, being cold or being in 2nd ward. Whether they were freezing or worried about their Jaguars out in the unlit parking lot, the audience did not seem to fully appreciate the experience.

The evening was divided into two "acts." The first "act" featured the 1915 Cecil B. Demille silent film <I>Carmen<P>, accompanied live by Orchestra X. The orchestra did a wonderful job playing the original score of the film. Such a performance is rarely done these days, which was cool, but not innovative.

The second "act" consisted of selections from Georges Bizet's opera <I>Carmen<P> updated and in English.

How did they make the transition? Don Jose, usually a soldier in the army, was changed into an HPD officer with high ambitions for promotion.

He is madly in love with Carmen, "a temptress from south of Navigation Blvd." (She's a gypsy in <I>Carmen<P>.) Unfortunately, Don Jose is betrothed to Michaela, a debutante from River Oaks. Finally Escamillo, typically a bull fighter, is presented as a famous tejano singer.

The lyrical changes were unoffending, if basic. Most of the singers were adequate, but not spectacular, with the exception of Camille Zamora who stole the show with a single solo.

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