Fatal Attractions: Carmen and the Cookie Monster

Poor Don Jose’. What a sap. Steady job in the army. Steady girlfriend. Mother who loves him (maybe a little too much?). What’s up? Why would he chuck it all: desert the army, desert the girlfriend, leave his mother and run away with a slutty little gypsy named Carmen who works in a cigarette factory, runs with a bunch of crooks, and spreads her legs for anyone who might be useful? But then again… It’s not that uncommon is it?

The little tramp wasn’t even good looking – at least that was true yesterday. Yesterday’s Carmen (HD performance from the Metropolitan Opera) was a chubby, unattractive Georgian temptless who seduces a schlubby wooden Latvian Don Jose’. I’m not alone in this opinion. The New York Times’ Zachery Woolfe had the same complaint.


I may not be an opera critic but I know that in addition to Bizet’s music, Carmen’s immense popularity is due to the spitfire beauty of its title character and her gullible handsome Don Jose’. The music is so well known that even ordinary people can hum the score – so the two main characters need to make us believe in the story.

Opera purists probably wouldn’t agree with me but my favorite Carmen is Francesco Rosi’s 1984 film with Julia Migenes as Carmen, Placido Domingo as Don Jose’ and Lorin Maazel conducting. It’s outdoor settings are a little distracting, but she is riveting and he is quite believable as the chump who gives up everything to follow her into the mountains.

Carmen 2

I don’t want to be a scold; it’s always a treat to see a Met production and yesterday was no exception. HD in a theater, with close ups and backstage interviews is a different experience than sitting in an opera house. Seeing sweat run down the tenor’s cheek doesn’t do much for me, but the HD close ups do draw the audience into the action in a way that Row ZZ in the second balcony doesn’t. It’s a little like watching a baseball game – it’s really better on TV.

There’s a lot to love about living in the information age. Yesterday M and I came home to check out Carmen on YouTube and were able to listen to several versions of the Habanera aria – including one by Maria Callas although Callas never actually performed the role on the stage. They are all different and interesting. It’s such a treat to be able to see more than one.

It’s also amazing to have the Internet to revisit experiences. The most fun M and I ever had at a Carmen performance was when we sat on a hill at the Boston Common on a summer night in 2002 and listened to the Boston Lyric Opera perform outdoors. We sat on our blanket looking alternately at the stars, the stage, and the jumbo screen behind it.

I always find Opera exhausting, so yesterday, on the way home, we stopped at the market and bought the makings for some relaxing chocolate chunk cookies. Yummmmm… I went straight to the kitchen with eggs, flour, baking soda, vanilla extract, brown sugar, white sugar, two sticks of butter, a cup of walnuts and a bag of Nestle’s chocolate chunks, and 30 minutes later I had a Kitchen Aid bowl full of cookie dough.

Yes, indeed, cookie dough. I love it. I love it more than the finished cookies themselves. So, while the oven was pre-heating to 350°,  I ate about 1/3 of the dough and washed it down with a big glass of milk. There is nothing better than a bowl full of freshly made chocolate chunk cookie dough. Once in Berlin I ate so much of the batter that I only had enough left to make two pans of 6 cookies.

Choc Chip

Fortunately, I don’t cave in to the urge often, but there is something very satisfying in eating all you want of a favorite food. I’m sated now. It doesn’t even sound good but I know it will again. Next time I’ll probably do the oatmeal chocolate chip variety. It’s a bit chewier. Probably healthier too. Don’t you think?



  1. Enjoyed it all but chafed a bit at “ordinary people”….. Also I crave baked ch ch cookies “Each to one’s own taste said the old lady as she kissed the cow”. Suzanne

    Sent from my iPhone


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