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

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