Fear not Calixto Bieito! Scandalous though some of his work may have been, there's little to offend in this 2010 Barcelona performance, the most excitingly directed Carmen in years. Energy is one of its characteristics — energy from the stage animals in the four main roles and energy from the Liceu choristers, whose Act IV outburst needs no parade of visible banderilleros, picadors, etc. It's a triumph of theater and people over pageantry. Focus is another hallmark of this show, for Bieito strips Carmen of its usual settings and distracting clichés (flamenco, red dress, mantillas, bullfight rituals) and stages the entire drama in a circle of light vaguely evoking a bullring. Social commentary is a third, for Bieito updates the action and shows the plight of women and girls oppressed by poverty and by the culture of machismo in post-Franco Spain. A must-see.