martes, noviembre 10, 2009

Verdi´s charisma works like a charm

Yes, the magic of Verdi keeps sweeping the board. "Nabucco" at La Plata´s Argentino and "La Traviata" at the Avenida for Juventus Lyrica closed those institutions´ respective seasons with resounding audience successes. Not just the nobility of Verdian melody but also its total integration with dramatic truth even when the libretto isn´t convincing: those are the keys for Verdi´s evergreen impact .

"Nabucco" almost failed for the second consecutive year. Last season, when the production was ready (the stage designs, the costumes) a labor conflict stopped the season for a month and this opera was then reprogrammed for 2009. Now there was again a serious difficulty due to the provincial deficit.

And some activists even had recourse to physical violence to force a solution. But at the last hour matters settled down and the performances took place. In a double sense this was fortunate: first because we had foreign guests in the cast, and this is still a rare occurrence at La Plata. But even more important, the city was host to the Second Meeting of Ópera Latinoamérica with the presence of many persionalities. Although I dislike his ideas, the presence of Gérard Mortier had significance (he was the avant-garde leader of the Salzburg festival some years ago). In fact I attended two sessions, and I was particularly impressed by the story of the Manaus opera seasons at the Teatro Amazonas.

"Nabucco" had been plotted and rehearsed by producer Marga Niec last year; now that production was presented as curated by María Concepción Perré. The proven team of Enrique Bordolini (Argentine living in Chile), stage designer, and Imme Möller, creator of the costumes (Chilean) provided excellent "Babilonian" ambience. This was an "old-style" presentation, and I´m all for it. It was handsome to look at and it gave us the time and place of the action; for me that´s what culture is about, not Nebuchadnezzar in tuxedo parking his Ferrari… Granted, even within the traditional style some touches can relieve predictability and avoid continuous symmetry, and I did hope for a bit more imagination in the acting. On the other hand, no one can put right the absurdities of this libretto.

Susan Neves has shed many dozens of pounds in recent years, and I have no doubt this has done much good to her career. By now she is a seasoned performer, about to spend a long season at the Met. She is very assured in the upper range and she can phrase with intensity. I do find a problem with her numerous glottal attacks in the lower range, and also at times in this devil of a part she doesn´t quite fuse the enormous jumps of the vocal line. She moved well. Mexican baritone Jorge Lagunes made an interesting debut. The voice is quite beautiful and was shown to best advantage in the aria "Dio di Giuda", but he does lack the cutting quality of the many declamatory phrases; Nabucco needs not only a good singer but an imperious actor in voice and demeanor, and this Lagunes isn´t. As Zaccaria , High Priest of the Hebrews, Homero Pérez-Miranda was too backward in voice projection, feeling rather woolly or arid in timbre, but singing with fine expression the beautiful cello-supported aria "Vieni, o Levita!". The couple in love, Ismaele and Fenena, was sung perfervidly by tenor Enrique Folger and mezzosoprano Cecilia Díaz; they compensated with enthusiasm what they lacked in line. There were good cameos from Mario De Salvo, Sonia Schiller and Sergio Spina.

Alejo Pérez, a few days after conducting avant-garde music, showed his versatility with this seminal Verdi opera; his tempi were arguably too fast in some instances, but he got a good deal of punch and accuracy (though there were accidents). The offstage music played by no less than 18 musicians was well coordinated by Luis Clemente. The Choir has a lot to sing, and under Miguel Martínez did quite well, except for poor articulation of the words in "Va pensiero".

I´ll be brief with "La Traviata". There were several casts and I am commenting on the night of November 7. Starting 25 minutes late because of the Gay Pride Parade outside and having three intervals, it was a long night. It did respond to Juventus´ aims because the cast was quite young and sometimes green. Led by the wise though rather slow hand of Antonio Russo, the artists were sincere and likeable though a bit stilted. Ana D´Anna as producer and stage designer provided pleasant period pictures and tried to move the crowds with individual gestures, avoiding the feeling of a choir with a homogeneous personality, but some things bothered me (the help being present at the crucial Germont/Violetta duet, the silly bicycles). Nice costumes from María Jaunarena. The Third Act dances always seem to me unnecessary and absurd; this time they went by innocuously.

Laura Polverini lacks weight and harmonics in her voice, but her light equipment was agreeably handled, with some dramatic point. Her Alfredo, Santiago Bürgi, was even lighter, and felt overextended in the Third Act, though musical enough. Germont was sung with solemn mien and pleasant, soft timbre by Ernesto Bauer, small-scale but tasteful. The others: an explosive Flora from Guadalupe Barrientos, a rather harsh Gastone (Hernán Sánchez Arteaga), a good Douphol (Leandro Sosa), an uneven Grenvil (Claudio Rotella), and a well-conceived Annetta (María Eugenia Caretti).

For Buenos Aires Herald

1 comentario:

Anónimo dijo...

congratulations Macarena Valenzuela from Chile for your great Traviata, you are a wonderful young singer. Enormous talent and beauty.