Tchiakovsky´s "The Nutcracker" is a Christmas staple in many countries, and it has become so here in B.A. It is very much a family ballet. This year for the first time I saw it with my granddaughter, 6, and she fell under the spell. She was right: Iñaki Urlezaga´s presentation at the Citi Opera with his own revision of the choreography was really pleasant and accomplished. No version will ever come near in this city to the Nureyev at the Colón, stunning both in its dancing brilliance and marvelous satge designs. But that is far in the past.
Urlezaga´s Ballet Concierto, with the artistic direction of Lilian Giovine, the production and artistic realisation of Marianela Urlezaga, the lovely costumes of Rodolfo Sorbi and the technical direction (including lighting) of Miguel García Lombardo, gave us an enjoyable, well-danced and nicely presented evening.
In this version Urlezaga only dances as the Prince (the Nutcracker transformed), not as Nureyev who also did a finely acted Drosselmeyer. The Christmas scene had charm and dynamism. In Clara´s dream the fight of mice and soldiers was rather pat. In the Second Act the Snowflakes Waltz was quite nice, and the long Divertissment was a success. I especially liked the lithe and beautiful Celeste Losa as the Odalisque in the Arabian Dance, but such things as the Chinese and the Russian dances also went very well, and the corps de ballet was quite adequate in the big Flower Waltz. Of course, the great pas de deux at the end was the moment of special splendor for Urlezaga and his Clara, Eliana Figueroa. Drosselmayer was taken with professionalism by Jorge Amarante.
The Orquesta Académica de Buenos Aires played agreeably under the firm hand of a ballet connoisseur, Carlos Calleja, and the Coro Kennedy under Raúl Fritzsche sang correctly in the wordless Snowflakes Waltz.
I wrote recently about "Coppelius", the final offering of the Argentino´s Ballet, but an earlier event must also be mentioned. In October a double bill combined the Suite from Ginastera´s "Estancia" with the complete Stravinsky "Firebird". Carlos Trunsky as the choreographer of "Estancia" eschewed the conventional folk-inspired steps and in the eight chosen dances he combines couples in contemporary evolutions. As Trunsky says, he evokes Ginastera´s music: "the passing of time, the dichotomy between city and field, love between a man and a woman from contrasting sides"; plus a Trunsky addition of an allegory of a "gringo Argentina crying at the feet of the original men of these lands". I didn´t like it much, but others may feel more attuned to his concepts. It was well danced .
The original choreography of Fokin for "The Firebird" is a magnificent classic and I don´t believe it can be bettered, for it is wholly in the spirit it should have: that of a Russian fairy tale. Jorge Amarante´s choreography is respectful of the original story and steps, with only minor changes. The imaginative stage designs by Tito Egurza and costumes by Mini Zuccheri, well lighted by Roberto Traferri, made for a fine show. Larisa Hominal, a striking blonde, danced with full command the Firebird, abetted by convincing colleagues: Darío Lesnik (Kostchei), Stefanía Vallone (Princess) and Bautista Parada (Prince Ivan). The disciplined Corps de Ballet showed the knowledgeable hand of the Ballet´s Director Mario Galizzi.
The Mexican conductor José Areán got generally good results in the difficult scores apart from some horn fluffs.
Nino Rota´s "I due timidi", on a libretto by the famous film script writer Suso Cecchi D´Amico, is a bittersweet 56-minute opera on the disastrous results of excessive shyness. The Colón premiered it years ago with orchestra, and now the Argentino´s Ópera Estudio offered at the Sala Piazzolla the score in its original version as a radiophonic opera with piano. Composed in 1950, fully tonal, the music falls pleasantly on the ear but is hardly memorable. The witty Italian text was well projected by the whole young team, well prepared by musical director Guillermo Brizzio. Pablo Maritano did it as if we were witnessing the radiophonic performance, each artist doing his part but not interacting; it worked well. All were good, but I will especially mention Silvina Petryna, Darío Leoncini, Maximiliano Agatiello and María Luisa Merino Ronda.
The Festival Internacional Encuentros offered two well-known one-acters in their original versions with piano: Menotti´s funny "The Telephone" and Poulenc´s tragic "La voix humaine" on Cocteau´s text. Nicolás Aráoz as producer underlined the farce elements in the Menotti libretto, and soprano Valeria Albarracín and baritone Martín Caltabiano fulfilled their parts with gusto. The telephone is also fundamental in Poulenc´s one-woman opera, for it´s the last time she talks with her ex lover. In Jorge de Lassaletta´s expressionist concept the drama was well transmitted, and Marta Blanco, although with declining vocal means, was certainly an involved interpreter. Enrique Prémoli was the solid pianist.
A very short reference to Salvatore Sciarrino´s "Luci mie traditrici", an antiopera of exasperating stillness based on a seventeenth-century melodrama of treason. The completely dry rendering of the music by Raminta Babickaite, Ekkehard Abele, Daniel Gloger and Florian Just may be what the composer intended, but oh what a bore. The Ensamble Lucilin of Luxemburg with addition of Argentine musicians was conducted by Tito Ceccherini. Alejandro Tantanian as producer had the thankless job of keeping the temperature close to absolute zero. The venue was the Sala Casacuberta in the San Martín´s cycle of contemporary music.