Osvaldo Lamborghini´s "El fiord" invites polemics, for its whole text is a pornographic-scatological indictment of Argentine politics as they were in 1968, the year of the Cordobazo. César Aira and Alan Pauls defend him, others attack him.
He is called a "poeta maldito" ("damned poet") but I hardly feel that he bears comparison with such illustrious specimens as Lautréamont ("Les chants de Maldoror"), Baudelaire´s marvelous "Les fleurs du mal" or Rimbaud´s fantasies. Their texts reflect decadent societies with dystopic views of reality though with beautiful literary language, never having recourse to the lowest possible level of words reflecting sex and bodily functions. Lamborghini isn´t earthy or picaresque as Rabelais or Boccaccio, he is simply dirty. There´s no eroticism in what he does nor is he crude and gross in the manner of "revista" comedians.
What he does may be novel but not valid: corporize political ideas in chaotic and Surrealistic dialogues and gestures of an absolutely constant porno-scatological pouring out. You get easily saturated for you soon find out that it leads nowhere. Both Osvaldo and Leónidas (brothers) were writers and peronistas, but Leónidas never went to the extremes of his brother although being frankly militant.
Militant writing can be good, witness the Weill-Brecht collaboration in "Grandeur and decadence of the City of Mahagonny", an attack on Capitalism of real quality and coherence. But both this and "El Fiord" end with people filling the stage with placards in which we read completely contradictory things, in both cases showing the tremendous confusion of society. It is one of the few salvageable things of Lamborghini´s opus.
You can also think of it as predicting the disastrous way of Argentina to state terrorism. Said Osvaldo: "on March 24, 1976, I became mad, homosexual, marxist, drug addict and alcoholic". Those are the words that auto-describe one of the characters, Atilio Tancredo Vacán, one of the products of Carla Greta Terón, a vast woman that is always being made pregnant and giving birth.
Everything is led (sort of) by El Loco Rodríguez, a ludicrous tyrant whose ideological line is quite unclear, seconded by the yells of the frantic leftist Alicia Fafó. And the Narrator is also a character who eventually is harassed by El Loco. But there´s a fantasmagoric "Woman of the Fiord" who is according to the Narrator the ghost of his dead wife (twice) and dead mother (once); these ghosts seem to evoke better times. Eventually El Loco gets his comeuppance and the others literally eat him up, not forgetting his most important part, the testicles.
One hears all sorts of political references, some understandable, many others cryptic. But even in Surrealistic terms, all you have is chaos. One parallel can be made, Alfred Jarry´s "Ubu Roi", but there the cruel, absurd tyrant is deeply parodied, and Penderecki´s opera on the subject (seen at the Colón) was quite interesting.
What led Diego Tedesco (composer) and Nacho Bartolone (libretto) to believe that O.L.´s material was viable as an opera I don´t know, but I feel they were wrong and that an institution like the Colón (through the CETC) can´t support such a text; Miguel Galperin, the CETC´s Director, has crossed a line, for nothing so dirty has been seen in opera. It´s true that the Colón is having a very permissive bent in what is staged at the big hall, certainly a bad trend, but this is too much at least for me.
Paradoxically, producer Silvio Lang was good, in the sense that it is a vivid imaging of the text´s madness. He opted for stressed grotesque in gestures, costumes and lighting, abetted by Leonardo Ceolin (stage design), Endi Ruiz (costumes and art direction) and David Seldes (lighting). Everything was brutal, visceral, with touches of crazy humor. Colorful, with fast action.
There are only two singing parts: El Loco, baritone (who also talks) and the Woman of the Fiord (soprano). The others are actors. The gigantic figure of Víctor Torres is cconvincing for El Loco, and of course he sang well. And Johanna Pizani produced pure, high notes. Of the actors I would single out the Narrator, Hernán Franco, who has intensity and adequate diction. The others almost constantly yell lustily, well, that´s what director Lang instructed them to do.
MusicaQuantica Voces de Cámara are nine voices led by Camilo Santostefano; they don´t participate in the action and are placed in opposed rows near the audience. They sang moody music very well. The Ensemble Bracelet was led with good control by Juan Martín Miceli; the eight members play different instruments, providing timbric variety in music that mostly seems relegated by the stage outrages.
I have to record that the very "décontracté" audience seemed to enjoy the stage meal provided; maybe they have good training in alternative theatres where the equivalent of the F word in Scorsese´s gangster pictures runs rampant. One thing, though: O.L. has a much wider variety of expletives.