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Toreamor - Love is waiting for you

Beautiful Bizet, mystery murder, flying lingerie - and how to date a toreador. BNO’s new film has it all – watch it on NRK Hovedscenen on Sunday.

Of all the great moments in Bergen National Opera´s film Carmen: Obsession in Isolation – and there are plenty from the star cast of singers and a super-talented creative team – mine is one of the least serious. Here´s the background: we´ve set the story in Norway - and five years ago, Carmen was murdered in Oslo. Mina, a young ambitious vlogger, wants to know what really happened. Close to the start of the film we are told by Mina, who narrates the story, that Carmen´s great love was, in fact, Eskil Murov (Escamilio the bull fighter, geddit?) the Norwegian technology millionaire. We´ve seen pictures of them smooching in a sunlit Spanish back street. She´s beautiful in a skimpy dress and a huge sunhat. He is tall, tanned and handsome. Joseph (Don José) meanwhile, is in hiding in a remote barn.

Mina

Back to Mina then. Beaming and excited, she tells us ‘…but this is what Eskil is most famous for`. And up on screen comes gorgeous Eskil and his…… dating site? Yes, on a blood-red screen with cavorting bulls and curving text, is Toreamor – the site where at the swipe of a page, you will find love if you are strong, courageous, tough like a toreador. Eskil, I should say, is sung and played by Andrei Kymach, award-winning Ukrainian baritone. Torrrreamorrr, he says, strutting, pouting and smoldering. Be brave (more rolling ‘r’s) and you will find passion. Oh yes, Eskil, I believe you, and you aren´t even wearing your skin-tight scarlet stretch-silk bullfighter pants. But your smoky-eyed under-lash glance and a rather cool Hugo Boss suit is quite enough for me.

Toreamor Online Egk

I screamed out loud the first time I saw it. We all knew that John Ramster, the film´s scriptwriter was smart with a wicked sense of humour – but a pseudo bullfighter dating app called Toreamor! Just how clever is that? And into the small portrait boxes slipping across the bottom of the site´s screen, advertising the kind of glamourous, or reliable, or naughty or just plain suitable dates we might want, we see the alluring singers of Edvard Grieg Kor swiping left or right on their mobile phones. Irresistible. I tripped over my phone charger cable, such was my haste to get online.

Then I wanted more, and by golly, I got it. Eskil lauches into the site´s signature theme, the Toreador´s song, one of opera´s most famous arias. It is glorious, rich, seductive. He throws back his head and the sound pours over us. (He also has rather good teeth). Meanwhile, EGK´s Hilde, Dave, Ørjan are all smiling, giggling a little, looking deeply meaningful as they swipe.

Carmen Eskil 1500X1000

The aria reaches its climax. Eskil is on the steps of his local town hall 200 kilometres north of Odessa, singing his lovelorn heart out. (We filmed all the singers remotely in their own home towns under lockdown). So the Ukrainian cameras are rolling fast.

Now, at this point, I must interrupt this torrent of toreador emotion to tell you a story which will either steady your heart, or have you laugh uncontrollable – which is what happened to the Ukrainian cameramen. Eskil is singing a ringing top Bb. And just at this moment, around the town hall corner comes an ancient Lada, the front bumper tied on with string, and the back quarters issuing a series of trumpeting petrol fueled farts. These for sure were not orchestrated by Bizet, in pursuit of his most perfect opera. The car phut-phuts past. The driver, his gaze steadily forward, is entirely unconcerned.

Andrei Kymach, for sure has both a sense of humour and a non-diva temperament. The aria was re-recorded and a passionate atmosphere regained.

But when you watch the end of the scene, after his closing notes, Eskil leans in and winks. It is truly, sleazily, beguiling. Now, was that seductive little gesture meant for us? – or was it a tribute to the Lada driver?

Mary Miller

28th September 2020

Carmen - Obsession in Isolation
Premiere 4th October at 8:45PM
NRK Hovedscenen

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