Labor conflicts are the bane of official theatres. In the last couple of years the Colón, the Cervantes, the San Martín and the Argentino of
A few days later it became known that the commanding team was resigning: Fernando Di Rito, General Administrator, and Reinaldo Censabella, Artistic Director. And shortly after the ex General Director of the Colón, Leandro Iglesias, took Di Rito´s post. It was further announced that in March Marcelo Lombardero would take over from Censabella, though he will maintain his predecessor´s plans for 2009 (published in the hand programme of "Hoffmann" and featuring the first ever R. Strauss at
Offenbach´s only opera is the culmination of his career, mainly as the writer and almost the creator of French operetta. One of the most interesting operas of the French repertoire, it shows unlimited freshness of inspiration and is based on the extravagant loves of Hoffmann, with the audacity of putting the famous author of fantastic tales as the protagonist. The libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré is structured as a prologue, three acts and an epilogue, and it features a devilish character under four different guises, always Hoffmann´s nemesis.
Death took the composer before he could put the final touches on his score, so it was lightly revised and completed by Ernest Guiraud as an "opéra-comique", with spoken parts; it was later adapted as straight opera with very few spoken bits surviving. There remain some moot points concerning details of the Prologue and the Epilogue and the order of the three acts. The Argentino´s production placed the Venice Act as the Third, when habitually that place is held by the
There were two casts combined irregularly in the four performances; I´m commenting the one I heard. Hoffmann is an immense part, present almost throughout the 160 minutes the opera lasts. It needs stamina, expansion, lyricism, good French and acting. Marcelo Puente did lack a more penetrating voice of considerable volume, but otherwise fulfilled all requirements; he is pleasant, personable, professional and agile.
Although Cuban bass-barytone Homero Pérez Miranda has been often cast locally in a variety of important roles, I don´t find his voice ingratiating ; it is gritty and too backward in projection. But he is intelligent and a good actor, so he knew how to differentiate between his four villains; he was at his best as Coppélius.
Two of the ladies were outstanding. Laura Rizzo has sung with success Olympia the doll at the Colón and in Paris; she was again brilliant in the florid singing and the interpretation was very funny with well-imagined mechanical movements and some musical innovations. Soledad de
The veteran Uruguayan conductor Federico García Vigil did a workmanlike job, keeping things reasonably together and with correct tempi, but his orchestra lacked animation and color, though the playing in itself was good. The Chorus under Sergio Giai got into the spirit of the opera and sang accurately.
The production by Carlos Palacios was a strange mixture of positive imagination with wrongheadedness and kitschy taste, with such absurdities as substituting Antonia´s claustrophobic room by the open air with the tomb of her mother. A pity for there were production values in the stage designs of Nicolás Boni and some of the costumes by Mariano Toffi.
For Buenos Aires Herald