sábado, octubre 21, 2006

Mozart rides again

It is of course a Mozart year, and so opera organisations include at least one of his operas. But he is the sort of composer that doesn’t need a celebration to be remembered. Two revivals demonstrate it. “La Clemenza di Tito” is Mozart’s last opera and the result of a commission. It follows a model that by 1791 was on the way out: the “opera seria”, whose rigid mold had long been transcended by Mozart himself among others). The Court Poet Metastasio had written immensely popular librettos during half a century and composers wrote their own version of them.In this case Caterino Mazzolá adapted Metastasio to make the goings on more dramatic, but most of it remains stilted, with the exception of the scene of Rome’s fire. That Mozart manages to instil so much life in this unbelievable tale of endless conspiration always pardoned is a tribute to his genius, and there’s plenty of lovely music in it, but although it can be counted in the lot of his best seven operas, it is definitely No.7. I feel that Buenos Aires Lírica’s revival of their 2003 presentation was unnecessary and I would have felt that way even if I liked the staging, which I don’t. I believe this is a year in which the neglected but valid works should have a hearing, and I would have welcomed “Mitridate”, “Lucio Silla” or “La Finta Giardiniera”. Marcelo Lombardero has opted for a Postmodernist approach; some people agree with that point of view, I can’t. I do admit that he tells the basic story well (he has always had that knack) but an opera about a Roman Emperor that shows him surrounded by hippies in a Roman square saluting from a modern car is to me unacceptable. He changes tack in the last scene when he suddenly gives us the wigs of Classicism, which was the way in Mozart’s time; this I could accept but applying it to the whole work, though the action is much more convincing done in the proper historical period of the action.There’s no reason why it can’t be intense and dramatic done thus. Nowadays it seems that to be avantgarde is to do what the libretto asks for... Most do Postmodernism and end up being retro! Lombardero’s production was revived by Rita Cosentino and it included stage designs by Daniel Feijóo, costumes by Luciana Gutman and lighting by Horacio Efron. They all had to follow the producer’s ideas, but even so, was it necessary to give Vitellia such whorish clothes? The musical side was better. Luis Gorelik , the conductor, adopted reasonable tempi but didn’t quite obtain the necessary clarity of articulation from a rather dense orchestra even if some solos went well (the obligatos of clarinet and corno di bassetto in two arias). Manuel de Olaso was imaginative in the harpsichord recitatives, and the chorus was correct under Juan Casasbellas. There was a good cast. Carlos Ullán doesn’t find acting easy, but it’s pretty hard to stomach such an absurdly benevolent monarch (the historical truth is mixed: cruel as a general, benevolent in a populist way when Emperor but within reason) and he sang with proper style. Carla Filipcic Holm only found her best voice in the Second Act, when she gave us a splendidly sung aria. Adriana Mastrángelo was more markedly uneven: with serious trouble in the triplets of “Parto, parto” (First Act) she was exquisite in her Second Act aria. Solid work from Vanesa Mautner (Annio) and Alejandro Meerapfel (Public) and an agreeable Servilia from Ana Laura Menéndez. Also among the best seven (I feel it’s number five) I rank “Die Entfuehrung aus dem Serail” (“The Abduction from the Seraglio”), the “Turkish” Singspiel of 1782. Written for specific singers of enormous range, it is perhaps his opera fraught with the greatest hurdles, which has always made it hard to cast. With contrasting tragic and comic scenes and a long spoken role (Pasha Selim) this piece on the clash of cultures and love stories has wonderful music. Up to now it has only been done at the Colón, but in recent years smaller theatres have shown a lot of enterprise. For the Roma of Avellaneda it is surely commendable to have tackled it and in German. They have very little money, so the lady producers María Concepción Perre and María de la Paz Perre opted for movng panels constructing and dividing different locales, imagination supplanting means; costumes were very simple except Konstanze’s. The imposing height of actor Sergio Geuna and his correct diction gave us a good Selim, who proves magnanimous in the end . Vocally Soledad de la Rosa dominated, singing with fresh voice and complete register her arduous music; I only wish she undertook a serious slimming regime. Carlos Natale is a young tenor that goes from strength to strength; on the evidence of his first Belmonte he may become a Mozartian tenor of the first rank. Claudia Montagna was acceptable as Blonde though she eschewed some high notes. Ariel Pecchinotti was a poor Pedrillo, and Leonardo Palma could only approximate both his lowest and highest tones, but he is an actor of presence and made something of the truculent Osmin. The conducting of Susana Frangi was rather basic and the Avellaneda Orchestra is certainly far from the requirements, but they attained mostly a decorous level. There was a passable chorus. 29/09/06 para el Buenos Aires Herald

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