jueves, octubre 24, 2013

Our city´s main private opera companies announce their seasons

            Before World War I Buenos Aires teemed with opera theatres: the new Colón, the Opera, the Politeama, the Coliseo... After it conditions changed, and by 1930, apart from the popular Marconi, only the Colón was left. And so it was until the 1990s, although a subgenre, the zarzuela, had its home during many decades at the Avenida. But in that last decade of the Twentieth Century interesting things began to happen. A strange venue, La Manufactura Papelera, offered in its cellar opera with piano or with orchestra. Adelaida Negri presented in diverse theatres her seasons of bel canto opera, reviving many operas neglected by the Colón. At the doors of our city, the small, quaint Roma (Avellaneda) gave us little-known Verdi or Puccini. The enterprising producer Eduardo Casullo presented opera in diverse places. The Colón´s monopoly was over, as a symbol of the public´s renewed interest in opera.

            But in 2000 a new presence dominated what came to be known as "alternative" opera: Juventus Lyrica was born, intending to promote young artists and stage opera in a fresh, warm way, under the leadership of Ana D´Anna and with Antonio Russo as Musical Director. They are still in command. And in 2003, out of the crisis was unexpectedly born a rival, Buenos Aires Lírica (BAL). Led then and now by Frank Marmorek, they purported to be a reaction against what they believed to be the Colón´s decline.

            But both BAL and Juventus had and have a severe limitation: although the new Avenida (you will  remember that it was victim of a fire) is a beautiful theatre in the traditional horseshoe fashion, its pit can only hold 45 musicians, and so a very big part of the repertoire can´t be done unless it is reorchestrated with more or less felicity. I have never liked this, even if it is well done. Unfortunately the owner of the theatre is adamant and doesn´t want to enlarge it. And neither Juventus nor BAL accept the possibility of using the Coliseo, which does have a large pit.

            These paragraphs are the background for my comment on the recent announcement of the 2014 season of both enterprises. I of course admire their continuity (few things are as difficult as to maintain a private opera company, especially in a country with few sponsors). In 2013 our country´s economy suffered further disasters, affecting sponsorship among other consequences, and it showed: BAL offered four instead of five operas and Juventus only three instead of four.

            On first sight it would seem that things are looking up for 2014, as both associations announce a return to their habitual five (BAL) and four (Juventus) titles. Alas, in both cases the added one is an operatic concert, not an opera. I know that the Colón is doing the same trick (the recent Britten "War Requiem") but the only exception I accept is giving an interesting opera in full but in concert (the Colón did that with Händel´s "Rinaldo" in 2012): there´s plenty of beautiful music unheard here (a couple of suggestions with orchestras that fit the Avenida´s pit: Schubert´s "Fierrabras", Weber´s "Euryanthe").

            BAL´s most relevant title will be Donizetti´s "Anna Bolena", the best of his three British Queens (the others: "Maria Stuarda", "Roberto Devereux"), all three given in a tour de force by Negri, although in different seasons. "Anna Bolena" was splendidly offered by the Colón in 1970 (the others still wait) with Suliotis, Cossotto, Raimondi and Vincò. BAL will give it in March (21,23, 25, 27, 29) with Macarena Valenzuela, Florencia Machado, Santiago Ballerini and Christian Pellegrino, producer Pablo Maritano.

            The so-called "Wagner-Fest" will have fragments of "Tannhäuser", "Die Walküre" and "Götterdämmerung", with Carla Filipcic-Holm and Hernán Iturralde; conductor Pedro-Pablo Prudencio. The orchestra on the stage, presumably around 70 players (more aren´t needed for the dimensions of the Avenida). May 2, 4, 8, 10 and 13.

            "Adriana Lecouvreur" (Cilea) isn´t a good choice, for BAL has already included it in an earlier season.Daniela Tabernig, Eric Herrero, Adriana Mastrángelo, Omar Carrión. Conductor, Carlos Vieu; producer, Crystal Manich. June 6, 8, 10, 12, 14. I would certainly have preferred "Idomeneo" or "La Finta Giardiniera" to represent Mozart rather than "Don Giovanni" yet again. There is an intriguing rentrée, that of Nahuel Di Pierro, who left Buenos Aires very young for an European career and is probably still about 30. The others: Iván García, Oriana Favaro, Victoria Gaeta, Cecilia Pastawski, Santiago Bürgi, Mariano Fernández Bustina and Iturralde. Prudencio will be the conductor and Marcelo Lombardero the producer. August 22, 24, 26, 28, 30.

            Finally, Gounod´s "Roméo et Juliette" is a charming piece but there´s plenty of good French opera waiting in the aisles. Favaro, Ballerini, Ernesto Bauer, Pastawski, Peregrino, Iturralde. Conductor Javier Logioia Orbe. October 17, 19, 21, 23, 25.

            Juventus Lyrica are much less explicit in their announcement. Two of the titles seem to me quite unnecessary: Verdi´s "Rigoletto" and (already offered by Juventus) Offenbach´s "Les Contes d´Hoffmann". D´Anna and Russo are in charge for the first (April 4, 6, 10, 12) and the conductor for the second will be André Dos Santos (September 12, 14, 18, 20). The saving grace will be the première of the original French version of Cherubini´s "Médée", conducted by Hernán Schvartzman and produced by María Jaunarena (July 18, 20, 24, 26). The final "Great Anniversary Gala" has no dates yet.  

For Buenos Aires Herald

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