domingo, diciembre 04, 2011

The Colón´s ill-conceived “Ring” and internal rumblings

            Last May 14, when the Colón in a general way announced its project about a condensed Wagner "Ring", I wrote an article roundly condemning the idea. I hoped then that the project could be stopped by public opinion, but the general apathy of our milieu prevailed, and the thing will definitely be done. In fact, the Colón´s Director, Pedro Pablo García Caffi, invited the two people responsible to the press conference announcing the 2012 season, and in fact the last half-hour was given over to the presentation of the so-called "Colón Ring" (the  official denomination!) by García Caffi and the two "perpetrators": Cord Garben has done the musical condensation and Katharina Wagner will be the producer. There were also questions, quite poorly answered.
            In a second press conference Wagner and Garben were the expositors, and the latter gave expert examples at the piano of details about his work. There were further questions (in which I intervened); later refreshments were served and I dialogued with Garben. I won´t repeat here arguments already made clear in my article, but some facts and opinions must be added as the result of the mentioned exchange of views:
            .) I said it is basically nonsensical to give as a reason that the Ring is too long, for it is always offered as four separate evenings; the longest opera is "The Twilight of the Gods" (around 4 ½ hours); but the condensation lasts seven hours and you see it in one day. Plus two intervals you spend nine hours in the theatre, and some of the shows will take place in working days!
            .) The answer to this was very lame: it is an alternative version, they don´t intend to supplant the original. My riposte: there is a market for long sagas (Harry Potter, "The Lord of the Rings") and any true Wagnerite is quite willing to go along with occasional longueurs for they are an indissoluble part of the Wagnerian method and the music is always interesting.
            .) It became apparent that big chunks were cut not because of musical considerations but out of lack of empathy of Katarina Wagner with certain sections which she feels are unstageable (most of the big love duet in "Siegfried"!); and viceversa, she didn´t admit the cut of Siegfried´s Funeral March (there I agree with her, terrible judgment on Garben´s part). Also, Katarina disavowed Garben´s statement that he had eliminated all the philosophical bits (along with the redundancies, some of which aren´t, such as the ill-advised cut of Waltraute´s narrative). So, even the collaborators don´t see eye to eye!
            .) It will be quite expensive. Although sensibly opera subscribers have the option of buying the whole eight-title lot or only seven leaving the Ring out, the Colón Ring will cost in the best seats $ 2.600 up to December 19, and $3.000 from January on, although that will include catering in the intervals (one of them lasts a whole hour).
            .) The Colón holds the rights and will try to sell it worldwide, as well as to record it. There´s always a commercial side to any cultural event, but it seems to be paramount in this case.  
            My last report on the Colón´s internal situation was published on April 12 and was called "The Colón: light at the end of the tunnel". In a sense it was true, for the season took place; but unfortunately it came about as a result of devious management of very human problems, in a word things were kept quiet by unfair duress.
            Judges emitted favourable sentences forcing the Colón to accept workers it wanted to fire but they couldn´t avoid such things as discounts to orchestral players that had participated in street protests and were consequently cowered into submission. When the players in conflict accepted to go back to work they did so on the promises of negotiations to solve the irritating problems, but they weren´t kept, so the players ceded and obtained nothing; instead, they were sanctioned.
            Macri won a new term, he has more legislators than before and García Caffi apparently stays, so things look dire for the workers. In this context there was recently a strange bit of news. Máximo Parpagnoli, of ATE, head of the resistance during these past years, was a candidate in several elections to cover the fifth post of the Colón Directorate as representative of the workers. Several times the quorum of 60% stipulated by the Autarchy Law wasn´t obtained. Last February Sutecba, the rival labor union, argued that Parpagnoli couldn´t be a candidate for he was sued by the Government  who wanted to fire him and seven others, and García Caffi accepted this, so he postponed the election six months.  But now, for some unexplained reason, Parpagnoli´s candidacy was accepted, the election took place, and I´m quite sorry to inform that he lost to Sutecba´s candidate. It was a close election but apparently a fair one, so now García Caffi is going to cohabit with a friendly labor candidate. Very bad for those who are quite unhappy with the way the Colón is run, like myself.
            So the unrest and rumblings will go on but apparently there will be no new strikes and all the announced subscription series will take place. Unfortunately most people think all is well at the Colón and only care about strikes if they are affected by them; public opinion isn´t disposed to analyze matters and is all too ready to attack labor. On the other hand, savage strikes such as happened last year are indeed unacceptable. Structural matters will remain unattended and no plans to finish the restoration of the building are known. The workshops still are at La Nube in Belgrano and working conditions are  bad. Nothing is known about the future installation of the Museum or the Library. The Salón Dorado remains unused. There are no plans to cover vacancies or to solve pension problems. And opera production is diminished and with second-rate casts but with Met prices. However, most people still think highly of Macri and García Caffi. This is a topsy-turvy world.

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