viernes, marzo 30, 2007

"Wozzeck" starts atypical Colón season

This is the Colón's "gypsy" year. The theatre is closed for reforms until (hopefully) April 2008, but of course that institution is much more than a building and must be active during this season. So the ballet goes to the Presidente Alvear, the Philharmonic to the Gran Rex and the opera to the Coliseo. The reason for this latter choice is simple: no other theatre has a big orchestral pit that can hold 100 players. The story is a curious one: when the original Coliseo ceased functioning in 1937 it already had that big pit for its seasons had rivalled those of the Colón; when decades later the old Coliseo was torn down and a new one built on modern lines, the pit was left intact but covered. Now, at the cost of almost 300 seats, it has been uncovered; the current Coliseo has a capacity of 1700 rather than 2000, and it has proved enough, though tight, for the traditional Colón subscription series. The counterpart is a shallow stage and almost no flies. The Coliseo hasn't been used as an opera theatre for decades, and when it was a smaller pit was used. As to the acoustics, from my seat in Primera Pullman they sounded bright and clean but rather raw, with no aura; and I'm told the singers have little "return" (the sound they emit doesn't rebound to them the way it does at the Colón and that takes some getting used to). I thought I detected some discreet amplification but I may be wrong.

Marcelo Lombardero as the Colón's Artistic Director has chosen Alban Berg's "Wozzeck" to start the season and he is the producer; as he has explained elsewhere, the methods of production have to be adapted from the Colón's to the possibilities of the Coliseo and he preferred to be the one to do it , thus being in a position to advise other producers later in the year.

"Wozzeck" was premiered in Germany in 1925 and was fast recognized as a masterpiece of modern opera. Although fragments were heard in Buenos Aires in the '30s, the local premiere had to wait until 1952, when after extremely intensive rehearsal it had a triumphant success under Karl Boehm. It was repeated in 1953 with Boehm, 1958 with Leitner, in 1969 with Leinsdorf (and Christa Ludwig and Walter Berry!) and in 1995 with Stefan Lano (his debut here). Now Lano is the Colón's Musical Director and he was firmly at the helm. It is the first time that the cast (rather the two casts) are wholly made up of River Plate area singers, quite a challenge.

If there's a more modern writer in 19th century Germany than Georg Buechner I'm not aware of his or her existence. Born in 1813 and dead just 24 years later, his powerful sense of drama was shown in "Friedrich Lenz", "Leonce und Lena" and "The death of Danton". In "Woyzeck" (changed to "Wozzeck" by a misprint) the starkness and conciness of his style but also his treatment of a half-demented Lumpen driven to crime by misery and mental cruelty is prophetic of the social Expressionism of the 1920s Weimar Republic.

Alban Berg's music is atonal , Expressionistic and admirably wrought on classical forms. Three acts, each in five tableaux, for a total length of about an hour and a half, tell us in music both intelligent and sensitive about the relationships of Wozzeck with Marie, the sadistic Doctor (a proto-Mengele), the ridiculous Captain, the aggressive he-male Drum Major and Andres (Wozzeck's fellow soldier). With the sharpness of a stiletto Berg carves dolorous pictures that stay in one's heart. One aches for Wozzeck and hates the Doctor, and soon forgets the rigors of the non-compromising music to fully share the drama.

Lombardero took the decision to give us all three acts without an interval. As each act comes to a full stop there were a few seconds between each, but the aim was continuity and by and large it was obtained. He used sets and projections by Diego Siliano and appropriately "poor" clothing by Luciana Gutman, all abetted by the dramatic lighting of José Luis Fiorruccio. Lombardero has long shown his affinity with 20th century idioms and his staging was intense, well-rhythmed and theatrical, stressing the social side and the wrenching inhumanity. To my mind he made some mistakes, the main ones being arbitrary in certain scenes , lacking enough credibility in the drowning scene , but most especially giving us views of what looks like the Villa 31 in the last big Interlude distracting us from the glorious music, and utterly distorting the last scene by not giving the child a hobby-horse (he keeps saying "hop-hop"!) and particularly by inventing the presence of the Doctor and the Captain when it is precisely the desolate solitude of the Child what makes the ending so unbearably stark.

Full marks to Hernán Iturralde as Wozzeck and Adriana Mastrángelo as Marie, moving singing actors of international quality; good jobs from Carlos Bengolea, Gabriel Renaud, Gustavo Gibert , Eduardo Ayas , Nahuel Di Pierro and Vera Cirkovic. The Colón Choir under Salvatore Caputo and the Children's Choir prepared by Valdo Sciammarella were good (the silliness of last year's inspector denouncing children working late hours was somehow conjured) and the Orchestra responded fully to Lano's impressive conducting.

For Buenos Aires Herald - April 03, 2007

No hay comentarios.: