lunes, enero 29, 2007

Alternative opera's coming season

As you probably are aware of, one of the unforeseen and surprising consequences of the crisis was, in the musical side, the appearance of alternative (to the Colón) opera companies. One of the most complex and costliest arts flourished when money was scarcer than in the preceding decade! Certainly an Argentine paradox, and only explainable because man needs spiritual escape from dire conditions.

Even before the crisis, our plucky soprano, Adelaida Negri from her Casa de la Opera planned in diverse venues two operas a year, mostly from the bel canto repertoire and long-absent. She has persevered season after season, pratically leading the necessary process of renovation, which certainly includes worthwhile revivals of neglected material. Titles for 2007 haven't been announced yet but I'm sure she will surprise us again.

Juventus Lyrica will present their season at its habitual theatre, the Avenida. I have always admired the basic principle of giving opportunities to young artists, but I do feel that the programming policy isn't acceptable except in commercial terms. Two out of the four titles chosen are the direct result of the audience's vote, and I'm sorely disappointed to verify that their taste goes to the most hackneyed and unnecessary standards. I believe there's almost no artistic direction under these circumstances as regards programming, though I know I will be told that they need to do it to make ends meet. It's probably true, but it does mean that the more sophisticated audience that has seen through the years much more important interpretations of those operas has no incentive to go. I can only feel that there's a serious decline in median culture.

Consider: Verdi's "Rigoletto" leads the way (April 27, 29; May 3, 5) conducted by Antonio Russo and produced by Ana D'Anna (no cast details are given in any case). And the season closes with Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" (conductor Russo, producer Horacio Pigozzi) on November 2, 4, 8, 10. The second title will be one of the two most often performed zarzuelas: "Dona Francisquita" by Vives (the other is Moreno Torroba's "Luisa Fernanda").Conductor, Susana Frangi; producer, Oscar Barney Finn; July 6, 8, 12, 14. The sole saving grace will be the double Ravel offered on September 7, 9, 13 and 15; conductor, Emiliano Greizenstein; producer, D'Anna . "L'enfant et les sortileges" needed vindication, for Juventus had wrongly offered it years ago in a reduction for three musicians (a mortal sin with Ravel, the greatest genius of orchestration). And "L'heure espagnole" is very welcome, for it was last seen in BA in 1964 and it's a lovely and funny piece.

Better financed (which doesn't mean they have it easy), Buenos Aires Lírica will offer a five-opera season, where two seem to me poorly chosen: Verdi's "Il Trovatore" and Donizetti's "L'elisir d'amore"; both were seen in good versions in recent years elsewhere. They too hire the Avenida, certainly cozy and beautiful but afflicted by an insufficient pit that holds 45. That is why I can't agree with another choice, Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman", which certainly needs a more substantial orchestra. One title seems to me acceptable, the combination of two of the three parts of Puccini's "Trittico" ("Suor Angelica" is so-to-speak "odd-woman-out"): "Il Tabarro" and "Gianni Schicchi" (the whole hog does become too long). And one raises my expectations to enthusiasm: the premiere of Handel's "Rodelinda" in full staged version (years ago the Colón Institute offered a condensed concert version). The institution does announce its casts. An important bit of news: their success permits them now to offer five performances of each title instead of four.

"Il Trovatore": April 13, 15, 17, 19, 21. Conductor (C), Carlos Vieu; producer (P), Marcelo Perusso. José Azócar, Svetlana Volosenko, Omar Carrión, Alejandra Malvino. "Rodelinda": June 1, 3, 5, 7, 9. C, Juan Manuel Quintana. Claudia Pereira, Evelyn Ramírez, Jaime Cacompai. "The Flying Dutchman": August 3, 5, 7, 9, 11. C, Guillermo Brizzio. Homero Pérez-Miranda, Adriana Mastrángelo, Hernán Iturralde, Enrique Folger. "L'elisir d'amore": September 28, 30; October 2, 4, 6. C, Dante Ranieri; P, Claudio Gallardou. Patricia Cifuentes, Luis Olivares, Leonardo Estévez, Fernando Santiago. "Il tabarro" / "Gianni Schicchi": November 16, 18, 20, 22, 24. C, Carlos Vieu; P, Rita Cosentino. Ricardo Ortale, Azócar, Volosenko, Luis Gaeta, Ana Laura Menéndez, Santiago Burgi. A final reflection: artists of Chilean origin proliferate in the casts, apparently due to the crisis in Santiago's Teatro Municipal; this is both good and bad: audiences have a wider range of singers but less Argentines get jobs.

If in the above paragraphs I have intimated disappointment at overly hackneyed repertoires, the La Plata Argentino certainly gets the prize: except an Argentine opera, only the most hoary standards, although with good casts, conductors and producers. No dates yet, except the month. April: Bellini's "Norma"; C, Antonio Russo; P, Roberto Oswald. Maria Pia Piscitelli, Carlos Duarte, María Luján Mirabelli, Carlos Esquivel. May: "La Traviata"; C, Dante Anzolini; P, Barney Finn. Paula Almerares, Carlos Vittori, Gaeta. June: "Madama Butterfly"; C, Javier Logioia Orbe; P, Constantino Juri. Eiko Senda, Gustavo López Manzitti, Federico Sanguinetti. August: Bizet's "Carmen"; C, Perusso; P, Daniel Suárez Marzal. Kate Aldrich, Luis Lima, Esquivel, María José Siri. October: world premiere of "Estaba la madre" (Luis Bacalov); C, Bacalov; P, Carlos Branca. Mastrángelo, Lucila Ramos Mané, Ortale, Estévez. November: Rossini's "The Barber of Seville"; C, Esteban Gantzer; P, Rubén Martínez. Carrión, Almerares, Carlos Natale, Gustavo Gibert, Esquivel.

Para el Buenos Aires Herald - January 31, 2007


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