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The usually meticulous, cerebral baton of Herbert von Karajan would seem like an odd match for Bizet's Carmen, but he leads the forces of the Wiener Staatsoper in a lively, well-sung performance that gives real weight to the opera's theme of despair. Leading the cast is Regina Resnik, predictably thrilling in the final duet and surprisingly idiomatic and seductive in the role's more beguiling passages. "Idomatic and seductive" can't really describe her Don José, Bulgarian tenor Dimiter Uzunov, but he wields a powerful instrument and uses it for more than just blasting notes out. Hilde Güden is the plaintive, beautifully sung Micäela and Aldo Protti an impressive-sounding but rather out-of-place Escamillo. The chorus, singing in German, does impressive work, and the Zuniga of Ludwig Welter is also worthy of note.