lunes, octubre 22, 2012

A varied cocktail of opera and ballet

 There are few examples in our midst of such sustained artistic work  as that of the Ensamble Lírico Orquestal led by conductor Gustavo Codina and his wife, soprano Cecilia Layseca.  In recent years they have expanded their activities after obtaining the management of the Teatro del Globo, a cozy venue of warm acoustics just a few meters from the Coliseo. There they offer their own projects but also help other outfits to present theirs. They also hire the premises of the Auditorio de Belgrano for other activities. I will cover today their abridged concert "Carmen" (Bizet) at the Auditorio and the revival after 41 years of Carl Orff´s "Catulli Carmina". 
            "Carmen" worked quite well, in fact I was surprised by some aspects of it, which proved much better than my expectations. Codina has been Principal Conductor of the Agrupación Sinfónica de Morón since 2004; although the Orchestra exists since 1969, its performance of "Carmen" shows that they have grown professionally a lot during this tenure, for the playing was clean and energetic, with some beautiful solos. They blended seamlessly with the similarly capable Orquesta del Ensamble Lírico Orquestal. Codina established logical tempi and phrasings according to good tradition, and he also got a fine sound out of the choir he founded, the Coral Ensamble.  A further good point: all the best music was respected and the plot could be followed fluently.  And although it was billed as a "concert version", there was useful (uncredited) dramatic interplay allowing to call it semi-staged (with no costumes and stage designs but with enough movements to make the goings on quite operatic).
            The cast was one of the best that can be assembled here. Although Mariana Rewerski now lives in Europe, she was here for some weeks and sang both this "Carmen" and Beethoven´s Missa Solemnis. Blessed with fine looks and a flexible, beautiful voice handled with ease, she may lack some tragic earthiness but otherwise she was fine. Enrique Folger is a true "spinto", an intense, expressive and big voice used always with a sense of theatrical characterisation; he overdid it at times, but in the right direction:  an exciting Don Jose. As to María del Rocío Giordano, she may be the best Micaela we have, a gorgeous lyrical voice very full and  used with skill. Sebastián Angulegui´s voice isn´t ingratiating but his Escamillo was well phrased. All but one of the flank roles were satisfactory: Laura Domínguez (Mercedes), Sebastián Russo (Remendado), Sebastián Sorarrain (Dancaire), Claudio Rotella (Zúñiga) and Ricardo Crampton (Morales) were all pluses; only the shrillness of Mariana Mederos (Fransquita) was a hindrance in this very good group. 
            Back to home base, the Teatro del Globo, for the final offering of the season: the revival of Orff´s "Catulli Carmina", the second part of his "Trionfi". The first is the great hit "Carmina Burana", done almost every season; the third, "Il trionfo di Afrodite", was premiered here (and not revived) when the whole "Trionfi" were presented at the Colón conducted by Pedro Calderón and choreographed by Yvonne Georgi. The riotous color and melodic charm of "Carmina Burana" wasn´t duplicated in the more severe second and third parts, and as the years went by Orff became more and more ascetic: "Antigone", "Prometheus" (not heard here) are tough nuts to crack. But "Catulli Carmina" still has enough musical interest and accessibility to make its musical acquaintance a pleasure. It means "Songs of Catullus", the Roman erotic poet, and the texts don´t mince words; they are in Latin, but the faithful supertitles in Spanish left no doubt about the high sexual content, centered on the troubled loves of Catullus with Lesbia, who isn´t lesbian but a promiscuous heterosexual. This 1943 piece, called "ludi scaenici", is based on choral works done in 1930-2 ("Odi et amo"). In its 47 minutes we go through a Prelude, three acts and an Exodus. The instrumentation is based upon that of Stravinsky´s "Les Noces": pianos and percussion. Catullus is a strong tenor, Lesbia a sweet soprano, and the ample chorus comments on  the action, applauds or laughs derisively.
            The musical side went admirably. Codina understood the style, the Coral Ensamble was excellent, lustily commenting on the goings on, and the pianists and Percussion Ensemble of the IUNA prepared by  Mariana Calzado Linage had all the necessary rhythm. Sebastián Russo was the very good tenor and Cecilia Layseca sang with delicacy and charm. I do have some strictures concerning Carlos Trunsky´s choreography. It wasn´t varied enough and at times the sexual movements were too obvious: you need suggestion, not imitation. The Compañía de Danza del IUNA (Roxana Grinstein) tried their best to be convincing. I didn´t like the stage designs of Víctor De Pilla; the costumes by Alicia Gumá were mostly black tunics and a couple of revealing outfits; Lesbia at the end appears half-naked. 
            As "Catulli Carmina" is short, it was preceded by another work: a choreography by Trunsky based on the interplay of a boy and his shadow, changing the original narrative of Dukas´ "The Sorcerer´s Apprentice". The reduction for two pianos is the composer´s. There were good lighting effects by David Seldes. The moves were of variable interest and the grotesque added noises by the Child even bothered the music, well played by Andrea García and Ivana Rabellino. The dancers were Darío Martín Rodríguez and Gastón Exequiel Sánchez (Child and Shadow).

For Buenos Aires Herald


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