viernes, marzo 27, 2009

The Colón still in trouble

Recently the new Director General of the Teatro Colón, Pedro Pablo García Caffi, announced a mini opera season along with plans for the Ballet, the Buenos Aires Philharmonic and the Center for Experimentation (CETC). I wish I could be more upbeat, but truth to tell I still feel that the Colón is in very deep trouble and there are many prickly aspects to consider apart from the mere enumeration of what will be offered to the public in the months ahead.

First the bare facts. Except for the CETC, which will use the Teatro del Globo, all the rest will have the Coliseo as its house, which is logical enough; at least it corrects last year´s silliness when Horacio Sanguinetti (and Martín Boschet) refused to give us an opera season: the Coliseo is the only hall that has a big orchestral pit apart from the closed Colón. But just four opera titles and two of them are chamber operas and another is a staged oratorio! Only three performances of each for a grand total of twelve. Pathetic.

The "opera" season starts with Honegger´s "Joan of Arc at the stake" ("Jeanne d´Arc au bûcher"), certainly a worthy score, but it was done twice in recent years, so it is hardly necessary. Conductor (C): John Neschling. Producer (P) and Stage Designer (SD): Roberto Plate. Actors: Vera Cirkovic, Didier Sandre, May 19, 22 and 26.

"The Abduction from the Seraglio" ("Die Entführung aus dem Serail"), Mozart. C: Michael Güttler. P: Willy Landin (Daniel Suárez Marzal sent an angry letter denouncing that Sanguinetti had given him the assignment). Singers: Verónica Cangemi, Natasha Tupin, Roberto Saccà, Maurizio Muraro. July 24, 26 and 28.

"Orfeo ed Euridice", Gluck. C: Arnold Östman. P, SD: Roberto Oswald. Costume designer: Aníbal Lápiz. Singers: Franco Fagioli, Virginia Tola, Paula Almerares. August 25, 28 and 30. This is the best project of the year and the first time that Orpheus will be sung here by a countertenor.

"I due Foscari", Verdi. C: Carlos Vieu. P: Mario Pontiggia. The only singer announced is Amparo Navarro. November 29, December 1 and 5.

As there are no concerts announced with the Colón Orchestra , they have an extremely light year, although they will also play in one of the ballet programmes.

The Ballet under Lidia Segni will begin in June with "The Corsair", the Romantic ballet with music by no less than five composers, and choreography (Cr) by Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev. Dates: 17, 18 and 19.

No dates or place announced for a triple bill by Mauricio Wajnrot (Cr), two of them with unappealing music (Art of Noise, John Adams), surely recorded, not live. Stravinsky´s "Symphony of Psalms" is the third.

The Minkus/Prebil "Don Quixote" comes back yet again in October 17, 27 and 31., and in November 1. The final offering will be the Nureyev (Cr) "Nutcracker" (Tchaikovsky) in December 18, 19, 20 and 23. No conductors and no guest stars are announced for the whole season.

I have no space for details of the season of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic, but a good point is that Arturo Diemecke remains in charge. Programming is heavily based on homages to composers that are having round-number anniversaries: Händel, F.J.Haydn, Mendelssohn, Albéniz and Villa-Lobos. Of the few premieres I will only mention Martinu´s Oboe Concerto and Arnold´s Concerto for two violins. Conductors: Zsolt Nagy, Neschling, Michael Seal (with Festivales Musicales), Bartholomeus-Henri Van de Velde, Helmuth Rilling (with Festivales), Yoav Talmi, Alejo Pérez. Only 16 concerts, fewer than last year. Soloists: Boris Giltburg (piano), Anssi Karttunen (cello), Lucas Macías Navarro (oboe), Wenzel Fuchs (clarinet), Radovan Vlatkovic (horn), violinist Elmar Oliveira, pianist Anna Fedorova, several Argentine artists including pianist Nelson Goerner, cellist Eduardo Vassallo and violinist Xavier Inchausti, solo singers , the Colón Chorus (Salvatore Caputo) and the Orfeón (Néstor Andrenacci).

The CETC starts well with Stockhausen played by Horacio Lavandera (June 18). I´m no fan of John Cage, so I don´t relish the prospect of his "Four Walls" (July 10, 11 and 12). On the other hand, the virtuoso group Les Percussions de Strasbourg will premiere Gérard Grisey´s "Le noir de l´étoile" on August 28 and 29. With music by Marcelo Toledo, "Cantar la Nada" will be presented by the Ensemble Resplandecencias on September 5 and 6. Then the Swiss Trio Flückiger/Läderach/Rütsche will play on September 30. Finally, two Schönberg masterpieces, "Pierrot Lunaire" and "Transfigured Night", will be interpreted by Eliana Bayón and Soloists of the Camerata Bariloche. November 14 and 15.

Signs of alarm: Gustavo López, Under Secretary General of the Presidency, denounces that García Caffi plans to reduce the total number of personnel from 1242 to 808, which will entail the elimination of vast areas of production and administration and will put in jeopardy the operational capacity of the theatre. Add to this disaster that the veil drawn over the restauration of the theatre is as thick as ever, that Boschet´s plan hasn´t been disavowed although it was strongly attacked months ago in the papers, that no chronology has been announced for the reopening, that the Colón Chamber Opera has been eliminated, that the Colón´s workers are demanding negotiations on grave matters of labor structure, that a recent judicial decision has commanded the Executive to pay their salaries to workers going through the retirement process, and things look very complicated indeed. Reader, blame the authorities in the whole line of command: both Sanguinetti and now García Caffi have implemented Macri´s guidelines.

For Buenos Aires Herald

lunes, marzo 23, 2009

Lemper fascinates, the National Symphony impresses

Ute Lemper is a diva of a special kind. About ten years ago she gave a recital at the enormous Gran Rex and she managed to give it an intimate feeling. Then and know, she was fulfilling what she considers her mission in life, as she stated it at her recent AMIJAI presentation: to keep alive the message of playwright Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill, the spirit of the Weimar Republic´s "Kabarett". Their high priestess for decades had been Lotte Lenya (Weill´s wife) and her "Berlin Theater Songs" remains the recording to have as indispensable reference. The harsh cynicism and bittersweet quality of the Brecht-Weill repertoire certainly need the German language and the Berliner accent, even if Lemper defends as an alternative the use of translations.

Sinuous, lanky and blonde, the now fortyish artist keeps well and is still a formidable exponent of the genre. Lemper is a deft linguist and feels completely at home singing in French and English, but still she is always at her best in her native German, where her strongly dramatic diction gives sense to every word. She is as much an actress as a singer, and her interspersions of stories between the songs can be very funny, as that of a red boa called Fifi which was around the successive necks –if we are to believe her- of Marlene, Lotte, Thatcher, Helmut Kohl, Eva Perón, Cristina F. de Kirchner, Hillary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice… She even made fun of AMIJAI´s rabbi. But she also got serious and mentioned the Holocaust, her need to sing in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to atone the sense of collective guilt that Germans still feel.

Perhaps the audience didn´t care that she juggled the announced programme around in a totally helter-skelter way, eliminated whole authors (such as the admirable Belgian Jacques Brel) and added things such as the two Hava Alberstein songs in Yiddisch, evidently as a homage to the Jewish people that were of course in important number at the packed AMIJAI. They don´t have to review the concert…

Her voice is rather astonishing. She is a very sophisticated artist and nothing in her sounds spontaneous; she is thus completely different from Lenya´s direct style, which I certainly prefer; her vocal limitations are compensated by raw authenticity. Lemper is influenced both by traditional and cool jazz and by rock; her scats are imaginative and complex, the voice slides with ease into stratospheric heights and then descends to contralto depths. On the other hand, generally in her interpretations, if she can be sweet and "legato", she falls into excessive raucousness much too often.

I won´t attempt to establish the exact programme, but Weill dominated with three Brecht pieces both in German and English, two of Weill´s American creations, the lovely "Speak low" from "A touch of Venus" and that perfect "September Song" from "Knickerbocker Holiday", and the nostalgic "Youkali" in French. From the Dietrich "Fach", two Hollaender items, "Lola" and "Koffer in Berlin", done very differently from the model (Marlene sighed in deep contralto tones, Ute takes flight exuberantly in all directions). Two from Piaf´s songbook: "Milord" and "La vie en rose", "Lemperized" (Piaf was all heart ). The Communist composer Hanns Eisler´s "Ballad of Mary Sander" and a couple of Lemper´s own songs. And I have mentioned the Alberstein pieces.

She was marvellously accompanied by a topnotch jazz pianist, Werner "Vana" Gierig, who did wonders of his own. The announced guitarist Mark Lambert didn´t appear.

My other subject is very different: the season of the National Symphony (Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional) has started and it needs an evaluation. Readers know I admire the technical quality and the spirit of this organism, so often battered by the authorities. This year is like 2008, only worse: bad acoustics (the Bolsa de Comercio and the Facultad de Derecho), free, very few premieres (none important), third-line visiting conductors, scarce soloists of importance, no programme notes, unnecessary little concerts here and there, though I count as positive a short Cuyo tour. Still at the helm will be Principal Conductor Pedro I. Calderón and Assistant Conductor Andrés Spiller, who will take on about 2/3 of the total amount of concerts. The National Symphony deserves much, much more, but it won´t have it with this Government and this Secretary of Culture (José Nun).

Their two initial concerts at the Bolsa on Fridays at 7 p.m. had full, respectful and enthusiastic houses . Programmes were attractive. The first was conducted by Calderón: it included Beethoven´s Mass in C major (45 minutes), beautiful music rarely heard, with the splendid Coro Nacional de Jóvenes (Néstor Zadoff) and correct soloists: Silvina Sadoly (soprano), Alejandra Malvino (mezzosoprano), Maico Chia I Hsiao (tenor) and Martín Caltabiano (baritone, rather weak in the low notes). The purely decorative Concert Piece op.154 by Saint-Saëns was very nicely played by harpist Lucrecia Jancsa. Finally, four numbers from Mendelssohn´s music for Shakespeare´s "A Midsummer Night´s Dream", ending of course with the Wedding March, rousingly played.

Spiller offered another great Mendelssohn score, "The First Walpurgis Night", on a strange Goethe text, music of strong character played to the hilt and sung with radiant tone by the Coro Polifónico Nacional (Darío Marchese) with talented work from baritone Alejandro Meerapfel and tenor Ricardo González Dorrego and less involvement by mezzosoprano Laura Domínguez. A powerful rendition of Prokofiev´s masterful Fifth Symphony ended this rewarding concert.

For Buenos Aires Herald

lunes, marzo 16, 2009

"Carmen" again, and the Juventus Lyrica anniversary

I can understand that independent operatic organisations need surefire stuff to ensure adequate box office, and this in part explains the routine programming that often affects our seasons; it is also an indictment of the audiences´ lazy taste. So Fundamús, led by producer Eduardo Casullo, gave us "Carmen" for the umpteenth time, thus starting the whole operatic year. Frankly the prospect didn´t enthuse me. The venue, as usual in recent years for them, was the Avenida, home to most "alternative" opera. And –I´ve said it before and will continue to harp on this point- the small pit is a very limiting factor .

As both an aesthetic and pragmatic decision (for it cuts costs) Casullo has had resort lately to a production system that gives us projections as main visual attraction, substituting onerous constructions. It can work well, especially when it shows, e.g., big photographs of good resolution of ample landscapes. The controversial point this time was the exclusive use of Picasso pictures chosen by Edgardo Beck from the collections of three museums. The problem here was whether those shown were apposite to the dramatic situation and my verdict is half right and half wrong; at their best they reinforced the plot situations but at their worst they seriously weakened them. Costumes were traditional and rather good (designs by Mariela Daga). Choreographies (by Gabriela Castro Barros) seemed unnecessary in preludes though the three girl dancers were expressive. Casullo´s indicated stage movements varied between the realistic and intense contrasted with some tradition-bound and rather undramatic groupings.

I heard the second performance cast. Usually it isn´t Micaela that one remembers but it was so in this case: María Rocío Giordano was crystalline, musical and charming. The seasoned Carmen of Alicia Cecotti was professional enough but unalluring in timbre. Juan Carlos Vasallo sang a stolid though firm Don Jose; as an actor he was a cipher. Alberto Jáuregui Lorda presented a rather aged Escamillo with sufficient means but little flexibility. In the smaller parts I was agreeably surprised by the clarion neatness of Oriana Favaro´s high register. Workmanlike jobs from Verónica Cánaves, Alejandro Di Nardo, Maico Hsiao, Hernán Sánchez Arteaga and Gonzalo Castro Santillán.

Positive aspects were a clear rendition of the orchestral writing by Roberto Luvini and the ad-hoc players, and enthusiastic work from the young Nuevo Coro de Ópera (Ezequiel Fautario). The Nuevo Coro de Niños (Rosana Bravo) was acceptable but very uneven in age and appearance.

By and large the semistaged lyrical concert celebrating Juventus Lyrica´s tenth anniversary was enjoyable and at times moving. It was a dicey proposition to combine so many singers in such a variegated mosaic and I can´t say that all the choices of producer Ana D´Anna and conductor Antonio Russo were right, either in regard to repertoire or singers. But many were, sometimes strikingly so, and the spirit of comradeship and love for opera was infectious and empathetic. The venue was also the Avenida.

The First Part concentrated (with the exception of Rossini´s "Barber of Seville") in what has been the greatest love of D´Anna and Russo during the nine preceding years: the three Mozart Da Ponte comedies and the same composer´s "Magic Flute". "Don Giovanni" had been the starting opera of the company´s trajectory and naturally had the lion´s share. No less than six fragments, most of them with dramatic continuity, gave a satisfying conspectus, where only some acidity in the high notes of Lara Mauro (Donna Elvira) marred the vocal pleasure derived from some of our best singers: bass-baritone Lucas Debevec-Mayer´s Giovanni, by now a classic, full of innuendo and subtlety; Soledad De la Rosa´s Donna Anna, not ideally dramatic but so well vocalised; Carlos Ullán´s refined Don Ottavio; Sonia Stelman´s delicious Zerlina. All this had been preceded by an ideal rendition of that marvelous trio from "Così fan tutte", "Soave sia il vento", where De la Rosa, Stelman and Debevec-Mayer did marvels of blend and taste in "pianissimo".

I wasn´t so happy with "The Magic Flute", where only the Papageno-Papagena duet really worked (Fabián Veloz and Laura Penchi); Stelman was stretched by Pamina´s "Ach, ich fühl´s" and so was Marcela Sotelano in the admittedly terribly difficult aria by the Queen of Night, "Der Hölle Rache" (absurdly sung on a bicycle taken from the production of "Les Contes d´Hoffmann"). But great things were in store: three fragments of "The Barber" where Veloz stunned the audience with a brilliant "Largo al factotum", Ullán and Laura Polverini were quite nice in "Se il mio nome", and all three were fluid and comedic in "Zitti, zitti". Both "The Barber" and Mozart´s "The Marriage of Figaro" are fresh in my memory, for they closed the 2008 season. From "The Marriage" we heard the delightful Cherubino of Cecilia Pastawski ("Voi che sapete"), the stalwart Figaro of Debevec-Mayer ("Non più andrai") and seven singers in the Second Act Finale, ending in a spirited brouhaha.

The size of the orchestra was too small (16) to be truthful to intense, accented passages, and if this was felt in Mozart and Rossini, it was much worse in later music, even if they played rather well under the careful conducting of Russo. The stagings were mostly right but certain things were overdone (the use of the middle corridor or the jokes with the players) and the clothing concept was inconsistent, at times in good period costumes, veering suddenly into modern tuxedos, or making do Carmen´s dress for the travestied Nicklausse.

In the Second Part I rule out Verdi´s "Nabucco" chorus, "Va pensiero", sang by the soloists (bad idea) and although Debevec-Mayer sang smoothly, Wolfram´s third act recitative and aria from Wagner´s "Tannhäuser" was out of place, for it wasn´t done (and will never be) by Juventus. No less than ten operas (eleven if you count the encore "Toast" from "La Traviata") and an operetta ("Die Fledermaus") was too much and the contrasts were jarring at times, especially with the "Carmen" fragments, poorly done by María Luján Mirabelli and Norberto Fernández. The latter was too uneven in the famous "Una furtiva lacrima" from "L´elisir d´amore" by Donizetti; but the composer was meltingly sung by Santiago Bürgi and Polverini in two fragments from "Don Pasquale". Verdi was made proud in the "Rigoletto" Quartet, admirably sung by Fernández, De la Rosa, Fernando Grassi and Mirabelli. I also enjoyed the two pieces from "La Boheme" (Puccini): Musetta´s Waltz with a provocative Penchi and the Third Act final quartet, with Fernández, De la Rosa, Penchi and Grassi. Penchi was also a fine Adele in "Mein Herr Marquis" from Joh. Strauss II´ "Die Fledermaus". De la Rosa sang with lovely line Tosca´s "Vissi d´arte" (Puccini) and the programme ended with two fragments from the Venice Act of Offenbach´s "Les Contes d´Hoffmann", quite well done by a septet and a small choir. Long life to Juventus Lyrica!

For Buenos Aires Herald

martes, marzo 10, 2009

Juventus Lyrica´s noble project

Back in 2000 the Colón was still with us, an international house of world renown though not without some unevenness. Important stars still came and brought further lustre to the great theatre´s reputation, as had happened during the preceding decade notwithstanding the chronic labor troubles. We had become accustomed to the Colón as the sole provider of opera. But two artists had a vision: a private opera company at a smaller theatre, the Avenida, would give their chance to young local singers and would base their offerings on team work. It was the idea of producer Ana D´Anna and conductor Antonio María Russo and they have kept firmly on the same line ever since. They will now offer the tenth consecutive season and it´s time to take stock.

Of course, "alternative opera", as it came to be called, sprouted other initiatives, both rival and complementary: Buenos Aires Lírica (BAL) is solidly ensconced at the Avenida with a five-opera season, and the same theatre is also the venue for Adelaida Negri´s Casa de la Ópera and for Fundamús, led by Eduardo Casullo (sometimes they work together). If you add to it the annual production of the Compañía de las Luces of Marcelo Birman at the Museo de Arte Decorativo plus other ventures (such as the astonishing feat of Ars Hungarica last year, premiering operas of Haydn and Kodály), you can safely count, without the Colón, on seeing no less than about fifteen operas with orchestra a year within the boundaries of our Capital. Add –for it´s close by- the efforts of Avellaneda´s Roma, and we get about nineteen! And there are still to be counted the rather numerous operas with piano (particularly at the Manufactura Papelera). And of course, the other great official opera house, La Plata´s Argentino, giving us another half dozen at only an hour of roadway. So, if we admit that the Colón will have a season, we will get this year about thirty operas with orchestra! Plenty of work for our lyric artists and quite a different situation compared with what prevailed in the period 1990-99.

All this talk of crisis, but we are offered thirty operas. OK, some are substandard and few can be compared to the Colón, but it is still impressive and reveals a huge appetite for opera, paradoxically blossoming in very difficult times. But such things happen when enterprising and talented people do their work with intensity, love and hard but positive work. And this is what D´Anna and Russo have done, along with by now a huge number of collaborators. True, there have been some missteps, even grave ones, and one has often wished that more money came in Juventus´ way, for they deserve it and sometimes their restricted means haven´t allowed them to put on as good a production as they surely wanted to. But one also remembers feats such as the very difficult and marvelous Verdi "Falstaff" having a quality production, or the almost perfect "The Medium" (Menotti), or the charm and admirable discipline of last year´s "The Marriage of Figaro".

This week their tenth year is celebrated by a staged operatic concert offering a judicious selection of some high points of these seasons that made us get to know so many talented young people, many of them by now fully launched in careers that are no longer promising but full-fledged, in no small way thanks to the admirable musical and theatrical training they got from Juventus. Yes, I agree with what surely some readers are thinking, that their repertoire is often too hackneyed, but it is unfortunately true that the majority of the public wants the same warhorses again and again. And a private company with no public subsidy can only count for revenues on the sale of tickets, the generous support of sponsors, the always hard-to-obtain ads, eventually on recordings or DVDs. But there´s so much competition for the same pool of money that it is quite difficult to survive. And that explains the endless "Traviatas" and "Barbers" and "Carmens" or the insistence on the Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy. I really wish they could vary the menu more, and for that to happen it would be enough that each production were sponsored by some tycoon that loves music and gives money for that only reason. Where oh where are they? On the other hand, why can´t the audience do some homework and be less routine in their tastes?

But meanwhile new young artists of talent crop up every year, nurtured with companionship and generosity by the guiding hands of mature artists that understand the need to steep them in the great traditions of opera. True, the Avenida´s pit is small and limiting, and there´s far too much Italian repertoire compared to the enormous amount of worthwhile opera that is never offered here, and it is in this sense that I wish our milieu will progress in the future. I also hope that Juventus and the other groups will spare us some of the ugly, tasteless and utterly wrong productions that we see with dismay, bad imitations of Europe´s worst models.

But the fact remains: opera is alive and rather well in BA, and today I want to thank Juventus Lyrica for the many rewarding experiences they gave our audiences through the years, with their warmth and solidarity almost always to the fore.

For Buenos Aires Herald

lunes, marzo 02, 2009

Questions about the Colón Theatre

As luck would have it, on the very day that the First Part of my article "The Colón disaster" was published Pablo Toledo was signing in the same page "Horacio Sanguinetti resigns". By then I was on the first leg of a trip. A month later I was back and found out that Buenos Aires City Chief of Government Mauricio Macri had announced Sanguinetti´s successor as Director General: Pedro Pablo García Caffi. It´s time now to take stock. A) Sanguinetti´s reasons. Officially neither he nor Macri gave any explanation, but word of mouth is powerful and all my sources coincide, so I will venture some suggestions. As City functionaries insisted, Macri and Sanguinetti had a meeting prior to the latter´s holiday at Unquillo, Córdoba, and there was agreement on the main lines of the Colón at that point. But a few days later, out of the blue came out Sanguinetti´s letter of resignation, known unorthodoxically through the press, for Macri received it a whole week later! The contents were perfunctory and traditional, mere "personal reasons". Reluctantly interviewed in Córdoba, Sanguinetti was hermetic and merely said that his motivations were no secret to Macri and that it was up to the city´s highest authority to expose them publicly. He also said that after returning to our city he would be willing to have a talk with Macri if the Chief of Government so wanted. As it turned out, this happened the day after García Caffi took up the post, but the communiqué only stated that Macri was grateful for Sanguinetti´s work during 2008 and had thanked him. After that, no more contacts with the Government´s officials, but I was told of some private letters and talks with Colón employees. It would seem that three factors had bothered Sanguinetti enough to finally offer a resignation which to my mind was a foreseen conclusion, considering the numerous rumors in the previous months and the abundant speculations about his replacement, as I mentioned in the last paragraph of the Second Part of "The Colón disaster". The foremost is the fact, abundantly documented, that Martín Boschet is back at the Colón. In the item "The future" in the mentioned article I wrote about "the silly scandal...of the centenary of Converse" that led to Macri allowing "Sanguinetti to drop Boschet", whom as you may remember was the Colón´s Executive Director, "the PRO´s confidence man" and the real authority at the Colón , thus having "a most unhealthy double command". His return in the shadows, for he has no definite job assigned, shows that he is still protected by the PRO, and this was insulting to Sanguinetti. In fact, Boschet seems to have full access to both SYASA (the management of the building´s restoration) and to the UPE ("Unidad de Proyectos Especiales", named by the Ministry of Urban Development to coordinate matters). Furthermore, he seems to have the support of García Caffi. And this begs a question: in what capacity? A delegate of the Government? For his erstwhile post (Executive Director) is taken by Dr. Emiliani, a labor lawyer designated by Macri. Two other factors may have influenced Sanguinetti. One, although Macri by the Autarchy Law has the right to name four of the five Directors invented by that bad legal instrument (and he has: García Caffi, Emiliani, and two accountants, Freda and Escobar), a lawyer and two “numbers people” are hardly what the law states, "personalities with a proven cultural trajectory", and in fact the designations could be impugned. Sanguinetti probably thought that as General Director he should have been consulted . And finally, strong hearsay about wholesale discharges of Colón employees; as many as 300 are mentioned. Both Macri and García Caffi have denied it but the very directors Macri chose seem to point to restructuring, and it´s a fact that many have deep apprehensions about their future. I believe Sanguinetti would never agree to a "shrinking Colón", no matter how wrong he may have been on other issues. B) García Caffi. Although the media generally refer to him as a former member of the Cuarteto Zupay, in fact he has had an important career as a cultural administrator. He was for five years Executive Director of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic, bringing to us such soloists as Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma and Evgeny Kissin and doing almost complete cycles of Mahler and Bruckner. He has long been the Executive Manager of the Camerata Bariloche, obtaining for them long national and international tours. And finally, he presided over the first season (with international artists) of La Plata´s new Teatro Argentino, until the economic tsunami of 2001 led to the abrupt curtailment of the season; this was a provincial decision. But it was objectionable that the authorities gave no explanation about the subscribers´ money, an eventually it was García Caffi´s successor, Daniel Suárez Marzal, who compensated them with three free performances the following year. García Caffi is effective, knowledgeable and very much a politician with well-oiled contacts (as is his brother Eduardo, who has held a variety of cultural posts). The question is, what are the conditions unknown to the public under which Macri has designated him? Only time will tell. But I would like to point out aspects that to my mind are paramount and urgent. a) The exact determination of the 2009 season, particularly the operas. I referred to a plan left by Sanguinetti (it was prepared by Mario Perusso) in my above-mentioned article; will it be accepted? I´m told that no contracts were signed. Anyway, either that plan or another has to be put in place with utmost expediency to save the season: the public mood won´t accept another barren year. b) The coordination with SYASA and UPE of the Colón´s restoration ; the establishment of a strict chronogram (May or August 2010?: the latter date was mentioned by Macri at Davos); the truth about the characteristics of the proposed works (it would seem that Boschet´s ideas are still very much on the table: ¿the VIP Colón shopping?). c) The clearing up of all doubts concerning the rumors about restructuring, the payment of salaries in due time (many found that their money hadn´t been deposited and at least one wrote a harsh letter about it to Macri). d) The choosing of the various buildings where the Colón personnel will work this year, for the Colon is off bounds to them, by order of the Ministry of Urban Development. One important designation was that of Reinaldo Censabella as Musical Director, a post nonexistent in the Autarchy Law. But then, neither is there any mention there of an Artistic Director. It transpired that in fact García Caffi will be both General and Artistic Director. Nothing at all is known about the Philharmonic; it is to be hoped that Arturo Diemecke will be confirmed as their Artistic Director. Neither do we have any news about the Ballet, the Center for Experimentation or the Institute of Art. García Caffi also decided that the personnel will prolong their vacations until late in March, thus gaining time for planning . I do hope we will soon have good news , the theatre and our public sorely need them. He has an initial vote of confidence, let him not waste it. After the "annus horribilis" (2008) we certainly need a better 2009.
For Buenos Aires Herald