miércoles, noviembre 25, 2009

The Colón´s troubled opening in 2010

In principle, I, along with anybody else with cultural interests, can only welcome the confirmation that on May 25, 2010, the Teatro Colón will reopen. I might give you the information straight, but there´s a context to the bare facts. As space is tight, I will keep to opera, ballet and some special concerts.

The Grand Gala on the Bicentenary Day will be very short: a selection of the Third Act of Tchaikovsky´s "Swan Lake" and the barely 18-minute Second Act from Puccini´s "La Boheme". It will of course be an official function with plenty of VIPs and little substance. In fact the big news that day will be ( to the surprise of many of us) that the Colón´s vast restoration works will be finished in time, considering how far behind schedule they are now. True, the Government has given priority (to atone for their long neglect) to finish the basic essentials that allow the Colón to have a season, and as many as 800 people are said to be working these days. Whether the results will be satisfying is a very moot point (there´s plenty of knowledgeable dissenters).

The season starts with the pat choice of "La Boheme", quite unnecessary in every sense. Conductor (C): Stefano Ranzani. Producer (P), stage designer (SD) and costume designer (CD): Hugo de Ana. Singers (S): Virginia Tola, Nicole Cabell, Marius Manea, Marco Caria, Denis Sedov. May-June.

Then, Mozart´s "Don Giovanni", a reasonable revival considering that the last one was cancelled due to a strike. C: John Neschling. P, SD: Michael Hampe (a production from Santiago de Chile´s Teatro Municipal). S: Tola, Norah Amsellem, John Tessier, Juan Gatell, Eduardo Chama, Ernesto Morillo. July.

Massenet´s "Manon" is a wrong idea, it was offered recently (I was told that a much better choice, "Benvenuto Cellini" by Berlioz, fell through). C: Philippe Auguin. P: Renaud Doucet. SD, CD: Doucet and André Barbe. S: Anne Sophie Duprels, John Osborn, Carlos Esquivel, Víctor Torres. August.

I welcome Leos Janácek´s "Kátia Kabanová", a wonderfully expressive opera only seen in 1968. I can´t accept, though, that the Colón´s General and Artistic Director, with no previous experience on staging, will be P and CD; that´s a narcissistic use of power. C: Gyórgy Rath (he came in previous visits as Gyoryvangyi-Rath). CD: Mini Zuccheri. S: Andrea Dankova, Miro Dvorsky, Elena Zhidkova, Reinhard Dorm, Agnes Zwierko. September.

I find brilliant the coupling of two powerful scores in local premieres: Zemlinsky´s "A Florentine Tragedy" and Korngold´s "Violanta". And with the welcome return of Stefan Lano as C. P: Hans Hollmann. SD: Enrique Bordolini. S: James Johnson, Evan Bowers, Deanne Meek, Eiko Senda, Wolfgang Schöne. October.

And finally, Verdi´s marvelous "Falstaff" (a pity that Buenos Aires Lírica also programmes this opera). C: Marco Guidarini. P, SD: Roberto Oswald. CD: Aníbal Lápiz. S: Alan Opie, Svetla Vassileva, Paula Almerares, Darío Schmunck, Graciela Alperyn. November/December.

Only six operas, no Wagner and no Strauss, though as they are starting in late May, it is reasonable. Very few singers of any fame, but at least two baritones of exalted rank, Johnson and Opie, will be heard. Prices will be expensive, European Grade A. Subscribers of earlier seasons keep their rights.

I find the ballet season a marked improvement on this year´s (of course the big Colón stage allows much more space and greater projects than the Coliseo´s). A curious but interesting parallel will be established with the operatic side of 2010´s activity with Kenneth MacMillan´s ballet "Manon", on music by Massenet (not the opera); it was presented by Julio Bocca the last year before his retirement and it is a worthwhile incorporation to the Colón´s experience. C: José Luis Domínguez. June.

It is always a good thing to fall back on George Balanchine, to my mind one of the very greatest choreographers of the twentieth century. We shall see "Theme and Variations" (Tchaikovsky) and "Donizetti Variations". On the same session, Vittorio Biagi´s view of Beethoven´s Seventh Symphony.

C: Francisco Rettig. Dancers (D): Tiler Peck, Joaquín de Luz (New York City Ballet). September.

"The Corsair" had been a project of the Colón Ballet´s Directress Lidia Segni; it was postponed for 2010. With choreography by Anne Marie Holmes, we shall be able to appreciate a rich nineteenth-century ballet. C: Hadrián Ávila Arzuza. SD: Christian Prego. CD: Lápiz. D: Paloma Herrera, Marcelo Gomes (American Ballet Theatre). October/November.

Finally, "The Bayadere" is another famous nineteenth-century ballet, and I am glad that Natalia Makarova´s choreography is back; the Minkus music is arranged by John Lanchberry. C: Javier Logioia Orbe. D: Alina Cojocaru (Royal Ballet) and David Hallberg (ABT). December.

The trump card next year will be a very expensive and very good special concert season with some of the greatest names in Classical music, the Bicentenary Subscription Series. Yo-yo Ma, cello; Kathryn Stott, piano (June 11). The long-awaited first visit of a great pianist, Andras Schiff (August 24). The biggest star will be Daniel Barenboim, leading his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in Beethoven´s "Choral" Symphony (August 24) and Milan´s Scala Choir and Orchestra in Verdi´s "Aida" (concert version) and Requiem Mass (August 29, 30 and 31). The half-brothers Karin Lechner and Sergio Tiempo will play a two-piano session on September 14. Zubin Mehta will conduct the Munich Philharmonic on October 1st. And a so-called Concert of the Bicentenaries will be conducted by Enrique Diemecke on November 26.

For Buenos Aires Herald

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