Operatic names tend to be rather peculiar and in many cases the protagonist´s coincides with the opera´s appellation. Either directly or indirectly, that was the case in three recent performances. "Eugen Onegin" (Tchaikovsky) was revived by Buenos Aires Lírica at the Avenida; in the same venue, Juventus Lyrica offered "Tosca"; and at the Roma (Avellaneda) Bellini´s "La Sonnambula" (Amina) was staged. All of them from the Nineteenth Century.
Tchaikovsky´s "Evgeny Onegin" has been appreciated rather often since its 1977 revival at the Colón; that theatre gave it again in 1997, Buenos Aires Lírica presented its own view in 2006 and last year the Argentino staged it as well. I saw all of them, plus two performances in different years in Vienna, one at the Moscow Bolshoi and one in Paris. So the piece must really be considered habitual repertoire by now, even more than the other important Tchaikovsky opera, "Pique Dame" (Colón, 1981, 1987 and 1995). It is valuable that all performances were in Russian. An added chore for Latin singers, but the artistic gain is enormous.
These "lyric scenes", as the composer called them, are true to the spirit of Pushkin´s novel in verse (in itself a special genre); the music is lovely and although the libretto could be improved, it respects the impassioned personality of the writing, influenced by Byron and by Richardson´s "Pamela", ultra-Romantic indeed, although with some folkish touches. BAL had done a good musical job back in 2006, though with modernistic touches in Rita Cosentino´s production. Although I believe that such a young institution shouldn´t insist with the same title only six years later, I came out of the theatre quite contented, for the music was admirably sung and played, and the production by Mercedes Marmorek was much better attuned to the 1820´s Russian ambience. Small mistakes apart (no writing desk nor inkwell in Tatiana´s Letter Scene, a rather botched duel), the acting was sincere and accurate, the country scene was nice (stylized trees in the pleasant María José Besozzi stage design), the ball was agreeable (with correct choreography danced by two couples) and the costumes by Lucía Marmorek aesthetic and according to the period. Good lighting too (Alejandro Le Roux).
Javier Logioia Orbe handled the small orchestra quite well and there were beautiful flute and oboe solos. The Chorus under Juan Casasbellas was convincing. The protagonists sang with real quality, although they are unfortunately far from having the "physiques du rôle". But the singing of Carla Filipcic Holm was of international caliber, and Fabián Veloz was vocally very good, although Onegin´s introspection wasn´t quite there. Chilean tenor Pedro Espinoza was a dramatic Lensky, even if I would have preferred from him a less open voice, one with more light and shade. Elisabeth Canis was an excellent Filipievna (the wet-nurse), and both Alicia Alduncín (Larina, the mother) and Vanina Guilledo (Olga) were satisfactory. To my mind Walter Schwarz lacks the deep Russian-type voice for Gremin, but he sang acceptably. Sergio Spina did an appropriately mannered Triquet (Louis XVI style) and the fine voices of Emiliano Bulacios, Ricardo Crampton and Sergio Vittadini were pluses.
There has never been a shortage of "Toscas" and I wasn´t particularly keen on seeing it yet again, but there were some good points in Juventus Lyrica´s revival. Foremost, Antonio Russo´s eminently musical phrasing with a responsive orchestra. Good choral work (prepared by Russo). And Sabrina Cirera as Tosca, whose voice has vastly improved and now, with her vibrato under control, her true Italianate timbre and temperament, she provided us with a convincing Tosca. I saw the last performance, with Mariano Spagnolo as a stiff, metallic Cavaradossi, and Mario De Salvo, a bass, miscast as Scarpia, a dramatic baritone. Good work from Leandro Sosa (Sacristan), a rather tense Angelotti (Cristian de Marco), a sonorous Spoletta from Sebastián Russo, and Augusto Nureña (Sciarrone) and Nicolás Secco (jailer) in the picture. The kids of the Coro Nacional de Niños (María Isabel Sanz) did well.
Leonor Manso showed a strong sense of the stage and I would only question the excessive manhandling of Tosca by Scarpia. The curious but not unpleasant stage designs by Gonzalo Córdova seemed inspired by De Chirico (and Maddalena´s picture by Modigliani). Fine costumes by Ponchi Morpurgo and adequate lighting by Córdova.