domingo, junio 29, 2014

Mixed results from our two main orchestras

            Recent weeks in the concerts of our two main  orchestras have had mixed results. Two things were clear: a) The Buenos Aires Philharmonic is playing better than the National Symphony; b) Both organisms sound their best with their Principal Conductors.

            The NS seems tired and lacks enthusiasm, and although there are expectations about new perspectives if indeed the new concert hall at the ex-Correo Central comes to fruition in 2015, one feels that they are at the end of a long cycle with their now octogenarian PC Pedro Calderón.  The concerts took place at the Auditorio de Belgrano. 

            The young Argentine conductor Pablo Assante (born 1975) after studying here and in Salzburg both choral and orchestral conducting has been active in German opera houses, especially Dresden, and now works at the Carlo Felice in Genoa. I liked his choice to make his debut with the NS: the great cantata-symphony "Lobgesang" ("Hymn of Praise") by Felix Mendelssohn (Nº 2, Op.52), done in full as it has to be (in 2009 the Phil played only the symphony in what was a very silly decision ).

            After three normal symphonic movements there are nine with chorus plus three soloists (two sopranos and a tenor). The words come from the Bible, particularly the exulting Psalm 150, plus a traditional hymn, "Nun danket alle Gott". The music shows the author´s consumate mastery of counterpoint and is often very beautiful; the tenor aria stands out and the soprano duet is also fine, apart from the splendid choirs.

            Assante had good control of his forces and built the music efficiently, although with the substantial fault of overfast speeds in music that needs expansion; compared timings: Assante 63 minutes, Von Karajan 70. Dario Marchese got impressive results from the very good Coro Polifónico Nacional; the soloists came from  the Choir and their quality showed that there are fine voices in it. Soledad de la Rosa and Laura Penchi were clear as bells, and Ricardo González Dorrego was musical and professional though he lacked some expressiveness.

            I usually have nothing but high regard for the work of conductor Alejo Pérez, and of course his qualities of honest and certain intellectual analysis were there, but I was disappointed by his reading of a score I deeply admire, Richard Strauss´ "Tod und Verklärung" ("Death and Transfiguration"). Some of the failings came from players that were not up to par (the horns) but the music needs an amalgam of drama and sublimation that I missed in this performance; the nirvanesque growth of the transfiguration theme from almost nothing to spinetingling fortitude went only halfway.

            The concert was dedicated to the memory of Gerardo Gandini, who was the pianist of the NS during a long period, and it started with his "Eusebius: five nocturnes for orchestra", a delicate and transparent elaboration of Schumann´s introspective side as it appears in a slow piece from the "Davidsbündlertänze" (in an interesting idea Pérez asked Marcelo Balat, the current pianist of the orchestra, to play it before Gandini). Here the conductor was fully at home.

            For a while Sebastián Forster was one of the most promoted young local pianists; born in 1975, in his early twenties he was a promising  artist. He went North and for the last ten years he has been working mainly in the USA but also in Europe. After that long period he made his B.A. "rentrée" on this occasion, with Beethoven´s Third Concerto. Now 39, he made in 2012 a recording of the Beethoven complete Sonatas. So he has immersed himself in that style thoroughly.

            On the basis of this performance I found him uneven; his sound had the necessary solidity and his phrasing is knowledgeable, but perfectly solved fragments were followed by others with considerable mistakes; maybe it was the nerves of the contact with an Argentine audience after so much time. And the orchestra was only correct.

             If there´s a surefire way of attracting the public it´s the performance of the integral Beethoven symphonies. This task was taken by Calderón and I could only hear the concert that included the Fourth and the Seventh. The symbiosis that has gradually happened over his many years as PC  with the NS (since 1994) still produces good results: the orchestra understands him, and the qualities of the old master  are still there: a master builder, he unerringly exposes the structures with fine judgment for the most adequate speeds and his phrasing is scrupulous; he does lack some lightness when that quality is required, but most of Beethoven doesn´t.           

            I only have the space to refer to a Buenos Aires Phil concert in which Philippe Entremont both played the piano and conducted. He is now almost 80 and his last visit was long ago as conductor of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, but in his younger years he came as a highly professional pianist. I was amazed at his dexterity in Mozart´s Concerto Nº 20; his reading may have been a little low on tension (he played and conducted) but it was always musicianly. It was preceded by a very good interpretation of  Mozart´s Overture to "The Magic Flute".

            I was less impressed with his Prokofiev Fifth Symphony, a marvelous but tough score. It needs more clarity and assurance than what we heard, and the Phil wasn´t quite as virtuosic as the music requires.

For Buenos Aires Herald

miércoles, junio 25, 2014

Renovation in recent concert programmes

In what seems to be a welcome and growing trend, recent weeks have brought a good deal of renovation –and innovation- to our classical programmes.

Initial announcements of the Mozarteum´s season promised the debut of the Beijing Symphony under Li Biao, in what would have been the first time that a Chinese orchestra came to our city; this artist visited us but at the head of the Li Biao Percussion Group. On the one hand, an intriguing debut was scratched; on the other, this ensemble proved to be first-rate and worth knowing and provided a fascinating concert; in fact there were two programmes, I comment on the first one. The privilege of presenting the Beijing Symphony will now fall to Nuova Harmonia, institution that promises for November 8 that orchestra conducted by Tan Lihua.

The Percussion Group was founded in 2005 and apart from the exceptional Li Biao, an astonishing virtuoso, it includes six other splendid artists; four come from Germany: Rudi Bauer, Lukas Böhm, Alex Gloeggler and Philipp Jungk; Conrado Moya is Spanish and Ronni Kot Wenzel, Danish. They were all formed either at Munich or Berlin, except Wenzell, who studied at the Odense Carl Nielsen Academy. As the biography of the group says, they play almost a hundred instruments that weigh altogether five Tons; we didn´t see quite so many at the Colón but it was an impressive and enormously varied array.

The Mozarteum has been responsible for previous visits of percussion groups: twice Les Percussions de Strasbourg and once Taiko, the enormous Japanese drums. To those excellent ensembles the Mozarteum´s history adds the Lin Biao, fully their equal. The programme I heard was a mixture of relatively recent music plus an arrangement of ragtimes and a botched Vivaldi arrangement (the only bad thing). Two of the composers come from the group: Bauer´s 9-minute "Seven seas", for the whole ensemble; and Jungk´s "Taklamakan", which has a Malay feeling.

A minimalist standard: Steve Reich´s "Music for pieces of wood"; Russell Peck´s vertiginous "Lift off", a drums display; Christopher Rouse´s "Ogoun Badagris" for bongo drums and maracas; a good arrangement by Lin Biao of Piazzolla´s Tango Nº 2 from Tango Suite (marimba, vibraphone); and two Orientals: Guo Wenjing´s "Rite of Mountgains" arranged by Li Biao in the style of Chinese opera; and Minoru Miki´s "Marimba Spiritual" (plus six drummers). The encore: "Aquarela do Brasil"!

Their Ragtimes were far from Joplin, two of four were ultra-fast, but the flying hands of Li Biao were amazing. In fact, he is the natural leader to an admirable group, complementing each other splendidly. Not great music but undoubtedly great playing.

A curiosity was offered by Nuova Harmonia at the Coliseo: The Pianos Trio (debut), made up of Giorgia Tomassi, Carlo Maria Griguoli and Alessandro Stella. There is no repertoire for that combination, so the programme constituted of arrangements, plus a piece commissioned by the artists. The pianists were admirable individually and collectively, playing with uncanny precision and unanimity. The men faced each other and the girl faced the public (we didn´t see her hands). The pianos were of good quality.

The things I enjoyed more were the Suite from Shostakovich´s operetta "Moscow, Cheryomushki", light, sarcastic and melodic; and the encores, Johann Strauss II´s "Tritsch-Tratsch" polka and Rossini´s tarantella "La danza". But although the arranging jobs by Griguoli are skilful, I constantly missed the original orchestrations of Debussy ´s "La Mer" and Stravinsky´s Suite from "The Firebird", 1919 version. As to "Vaalbara", by Carlo Boccadoro (born 1963), it had some interesting moments; it was written in 2013 for the Martha Argerich Project.

The Mozarteum Midday Concerts have also provided unusual repertoire, though not so offbeat. Currently our best chamber group is probably the Cuarteto Petrus (Pablo Saraví and Hernán Briático, violins; Silvina Álvarez, viola; and Gloria Pankaeva, cello). Thery were in full form playing Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga´s First Quartet, Debussy´s characteristic Quartet and as an encore Haydn´s Minuet from the Quartet "The Lark". Arriaga was an adolescent genius that died when he was only 20, and Spain lost its greatest composer of that time (1806-26); the First Quartet shows the richness of his invention and was a very welcome inclusion.

The Duo Yamamoto (debut) joins the sisters Yuka and Ayaka playing two pianos. I found them quite efficient but rather mechanical. They chose rarely heard pieces by important composers plus William Bolcom´s "Recuerdos" ("Three Latinamerican Dances). From Clementi the Sonata Op.12 Nº 1; from Schumann, the "Six studies in canonic form" as arranged by Debussy; and from Chopin, the Rondo Op.73. Pleasant rather than important music, the programme lacked at least one score of more substance.

The Verdehr Trio came here some years ago for Festivales Musicales. Two of the players are a veteran couple, Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr (clarinet) and Walter Verdehr (violin); the younger pianist Silvia Roederer completes the Trio; they are resident artists of the Michigan State University. During their thirty years they have originated an impressive two hundred premières. In fact we heard two of them, Jennifer Higdon´s "Dash" (2000) and Bright Sheng´s "Tibetan dance", both rather good.

The best music was two of the Op. 83 Pieces by Max Bruch, beautifullly Late Romantic. The Armenian composer Alexander Arutiunian´s Suite is pert and witty. The weaker things were the arrangements of two Brahms Hungarian Dances (Nos. 1 and 4) and "I got variations", by William Brohn on Gershwin´s "I got rhythm". The players were always professional and very able.

For Buenos Aires Herald


Lang Lang: pyrotechnics and “alternative interpretation”

    Dazzling, amazing, flashy, arbitrary, showy, polemic : all these adjectives apply to 32-year-old Chinese pianist Lang Lang. Most media and the Colón hand programme say that this is his second visit, mentioning as the first the recital he offered at the Abono del Bicentenario in 2012, but prior to that date I believe he came quite young to play the Tchaikovsky First Concerto; however, as I lack an archive I can´t confirm it.

    In 2012 he was strongly questioned by the music critics, me among them; the public, instead, applauded wildly. This time I was appalled at the immense difference between fantastic dexterity and inappropriate interpretation I felt throughout. But 90% of the audience again applauded enthusiastically.

    Two facts: a) Exactly the same programme was played two days before at a closed concert of the ICBC (the Chinese bank) for its invited guests. b) There was a mishap during the First Part: as the pianist played the final pages of the first movement of Mozart´s Sonata Nº8, a key went mute: one string had failed. The artist, unfazed, announced an intermission to fix the matter, and the Colón specialist, Quintieri, came in and fixed it; after the interval, Lang Lang continued with the second and third movements. I felt he should have made the effort to play the first movement whole once again, to keep the continuity of the score.

    As you know, a bad decision of the Colón authorities forces people to pay 50 pesos for the hand programme we used to have for a tip (an ultraslim one can be had, in effect, for a tip). But if you paid for the "big" one, you could see three photographs of Lang Lang in similar spectacular, expressionistic gestures. And such was his playing. I have a hunch that he is convinced that his interpretations are right; I can only say that several people had the same impression I had of an artist completely off course, wasting natural immense talent.

    He is, of course, a mediatic darling, the object of extraordinary homages, and not only in his native China, where he is credited for the expansion of classical music among the very young (he was a child prodigy). He will continue to be invited to inaugurate stadiums, play at the Olympics, etc. But connoisseurs of pianism will still be profoundly bothered by his wilful distortion of great musical scores, even as they envy his fantastic mechanism.

    When I saw that he would play three Mozart sonatas in the First Part, I was flabbergasted, for their musical language didn´t seem to agree with the image I had of Lang Lang; for me Mozart is represented by Ushida, Barenboim, Schiff... I was even more surprised that two of the chosen sonatas are easy ones that I had studied myself. And there´s only one right approach, that of pure Classicism. From the very start matters went stylistically awry, although the fingers always struck the right keys.

    Some examples: 1) Slow speeds were much slower, fast speeds much faster; 2) Dynamics were exaggerated, extremely delicate "pianissimi" followed by Romantic "fortissimi"; 3) Repeats were erratically observed, even going against the form (he didn´t do the repeats in the First Minuet of Sonata Nº4); 4) Ornaments were often out of style; and 5) The vexed question of "rubati" applied sentimentally with no concern for the proper molding of phrases (in "rubato" you "rob" some time to add it to a particular note or figuration; in the Classic period basically you apply it to moments of harmonic resolution or repose but never in the middle of a phrase as he did). He played Sonatas Nos. 5, 4 and 8; the latter is in the minor and the most dramatic and advanced of the early sonatas: it certainly can take a stronger approach than the others but compare Lipatti with Lang Lang and you will hear the difference between a stylist and a player.

    Theoretically the four Chopin Ballads (masterpieces of Romanticism) can accept much more leeway than Mozart, but not in such absurd degree as in some passages. The best thing about Lang Lang, apart from his uncanny precision in always striking the noted keys, is his sensibility for timbre, for indeed he is capable of beautiful and ethereal sounds and of powerful chords, and he always plays fair in articulating every single key, no matter the speed. But in the fast parts of all four Ballads we were taken on hectic rides that obliterated any possibility of appreciating the details of the writing (think of images passed so fast that you can´t discern them). The hands flied and I was marveled as I can be at the Cirque du Soleil, but I don´t go to a piano recital to have that kind of feeling. And the sad thing was that in some sections he calmed down and played true Chopin; so he can...

    He played two encores; the first a slow melody with nice harmonies that I couldn´t place; the second, Chopin´s Waltz Nº 1, unfortunately mauled by the pianist to a painful degree.

    There was a distinct involution since his earlier recital (Bach, Chopin and Schubert): he was much more wilful this time. Thus he have the self-criticism and humility to hear responsible advice and modify his ways? Honestly, I rather doubt it. But I do hope he will. 

domingo, junio 22, 2014

“The Corsair”, a balletic view of Lord Byron´s poem

            Lord Byron´s ultra-Romantic personality is still often evoked as a paradigm of those exaggerated but fascinating times both in his own adventurous life and in his complex and troubled heroes. But truth to tell few read his books and we mostly know him from musicians that have been inspired by his subjects. Thus we have Tchaikovsky´s "Manfred" Symphony and Schumann´s incidental music on the same character; Berlioz in "Harold in Italy", about Childe Harold, and his overture "The Corsair";  Verdi´s operas "Il Corsaro" and "I due Foscari"; and Donizetti´s "Marino Faliero".

            The story of "The Corsair" as a ballet is long and involved. Byron´s 1814 poem about Conrad, audacious and seductive, was first made into dance in 1837 by François Decombe Albert with music by Nicolas Charles Bochsa and premiered in London. Two decades later the Paris Opéra´s direction decided to commission a ballet on the subject but with adaptations of the plot made by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges; Joseph Mazilier, the Opéra´s "maître de ballet", was the choreographer, and no less than Adolphe Adam, the author of "Giselle", wrote the music; it was first seen in 1856.

            The Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867 instigated Émile Perrin, Director of the Imperial Opera Theatre, to ask Mazilier for a revival with several changes; as Adam was dead, Léo Delibes provided some new music, the lovely "Pas des Fleurs" that contains the "Valse de Naïla", the overall score´s best moment.

            But there was a parallel French-Russian development. Jules Perrot, of "Giselle" fame, made his own version based on Mazilier for Moscow´s Bolshoi, but asked young Marius Petipa to handle the choreography of Conrad. Petipa then created revisions of the whole ballet that same year, and then in 1880 and 1899, adding music by Cesare Pugni and Riccardo Drigo (most of the great Pas de deux).

            The Petipa version held the stage at the Mariinski of Saint Petersburg until 1928. Then in the Fifties Piotr Gusev made his own Petipa-based choreography and added music by Minkus and Prince Peter of Oldemburg (pas de deux of Gulnara and Lankedem); he also revised the plot trying to retain more of Byron´s original. This was premiered in 1955 at Leningrad´s Maly Theatre, and at the Colón in 1999 (first appearance of the work at this theatre).

            Late in the Nineties Konstantin Sergueiev produced his own version, but the Russian audiences preferred Gusev; however, Sergueiev´s was adopted by the American Ballet Theatre, and Anna-Marie Holmes revived it at the Colón in 2011. Its presentation was very successful, with great praise heaped on the stage designs of Christian Prego, the costumes of Aníbal Lápiz and the lighting of Roberto Oswald. So much so that it became the only Argentine ballet production ever imported by the ABT (in 2013). And with cause, for it is indeed brilliant and beautiful, quite apart from the splendidly contrived boat at the start and the end. There´s color, luxury, ambience and an old-style Oriental charm that suits the piece.

            The three main pirates are Conrad, Ali and Birbanto (Scoundrel); the latter will be a traitor against Conrad. The principal girls are Gulnara and Medora, sold by Lankedem to the Pasha. There´s a serious undercurrent in this light ballet, notwithstanding the numerous divertissements (including the Pasha´s dream), for there are deaths,  greed concerning the monetary value of the women slaves, and the wreck of the boat, although Medora and Conrad (both in love) make it to the coast in the final  moments. 

            It´s certainly a display piece for traditionally oriented dancers, and the cast I saw did a very good job. I do find some of the choreography rather arch but there´s still much to enjoy. Due to a lesion of Juan Pablo Ledo, Federico Fernández had to tackle Conrad in all six performances; I saw the third and I found him in fine form. Lithe, tall and blond, Fernández is nowadays one of our best dancers; but there´s a deficit of personality in his corsair, which needs the temperament of a Nureyev for it is a role larger than life.

            Curiously, the most difficult variations are danced by Ali, amazingly well taken by Alejandro Parente, who is well over 40 but keeps his stamina and physical condition intact, as well as his impeccable style. Dalmiro Astesiano, angular and slim, proved a convincing Birbanto. Gerardo Wyss handled well his slave merchant Lankedem. And Igor Gopkalo was a funny and ridiculous Pasha, quite un-Byronian but effective.

            The girls: Karina Olmedo has had a long and attractive carrer as main ballerina. Her Medora showed great professionalism and firmness, though a trifle short in character. Gulnara was incarnated by the blonde, lanky Larissa Hominal with  refinement and  poetical sense.

            Other smaller parts were correctly danced by young artists. The Corps de Ballet was large and impressive for its discipline and commitment.

            Lidia Segni revived the Holmes version with reasonable accuracy; nowadays that work is much facilitated by videos, decades ago you had to rely on defective choreographic notation, memory and personal experience. There was the possibility of filming but it was rarely done.

            The Chilean conductor José Luis Domínguez led the Buenos Aires Philharmonic with seasoned ability. He and the Orchestra know that most of the music is purely functional though pleasant, but there are some interesting moments from Delibes and Adam and they were nicely played.

For Buenos Aires Herald

Diversity in the world of orchestras


            In recent weeks I had the occasion to appreciate very different orchestras, apart from the two main ones of our city (the Buenos Aires Philharmonic and the National Symphony), about which I will write in a separate article. A visiting orchestra, the Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra; the commemoration of the twenty years of the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Nacional José de San Martín (ex Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Libertador San Martín); the first visit to B.A. in many years of the Orquesta Sinfónica Provincial de Rosario; and the revelation (for me) of the splendid Orquesta Juvenil del Bicentenario.

            The Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra, whose debut presentation was at AMIJAI, is another example of the richness of Israel´s concert life. It is a chamber orchestra, 33-strong, and it has reached its 40th year. Its conductor is Shalev Ad-El and in this tour the Orchestra brought along two members of Multipiano (I saw a concert from them in a Midday Concert some months ago), Tomer Lev and Berenika Glixman, who played Mozart´s Two-piano Concerto.

            The other main interest was the programming, for there were two interesting premieres: the Overture to Meyerbeer´s "Alimelek" and five fragments of the Suite "Das Jahr" ("The Year"), written by Fanny Mendelssohn for piano and orchestrated by Israel Sharon. Three pieces were standard: the Overture and Scherzo from Felix Mendelssohn´s incidental music to Shakespeare´s "A Midsummer Night´s Dream", and as an encore, Mozart´s Overture to "Don Giovanni".

            "Alimelek" is a comedy, and the music is tuneful and rhythmic. It´s a shame that Meyerbeer´s operas are never done here, for he dominated the Paris Opera during thirty years. As to Fanny´s music, it is truly Romantic and very charming, and it got a sympathetic orchestration in style; I was sorry that they didn´t play the whole lot as announced, although it would have been long (twelve pieces -one for each month- plus a chorale after December).

            The Orchestra is good though not outstanding, and the conductor is a bit excentric but fully professional. The pianists were uneven, with passages solved easily and others with bad joins.

            Mario Benzecry was the pioneer in Argentina of the Abreu Venezuelan Method, and he founded the Sinfónica Juvenil Libertador back in 1994, finding its home in the Main Hall of the Facultad de Derecho, UBA, thus activating this venue for concerts.  I have always disliked its resonant acoustics, but it´s big and free and apparently it has no alternative.

            Benzecy had no sponsors during 18 years, until it finally got two years ago the financial support of the Nation´s Cultural Secretariat (now it will be Ministerial) and the Ministry of Planning and Public Financing, through its programme "Cultural Equality".  The current Orchestra is certainly the best in this long period, and it was a pleasure to hear it in Ginastera´s juvenile and splendid "Ollantay" and in Mahler´s First Symphony.

Benzecry keeps well in his seventies and he led them with care and efficacy; the orchestra was concentrated and disciplined, with clear attacks and releases.

            I was happy with the visit of the Orquesta Sinfónica Provincial de Rosario, for provincial orchestras are rarely seen in the capital of the Republic; federalism isn´t often practiced. I had good references of their conductor, the Swiss Nicolas Rauss, their leader since 2008 and adventurous in his programming. It´s a big orchestra (90 players) and all the sections produce good sound quality. The venue was again the Facultad de Derecho.

            The First Part was built around soprano Virginia Tola, who sang Rossini (from the Stabat Mater), Wagner ("Dich teure Halle" from "Tannhäuser"), Cilea ("Io son l´umile ancella" from "Adriana Lecouvreur") and Verdi (two fragments from "Il Trovatore"), plus a zarzuela encore. Her voice is darker and has more vibrato nowadays; I found her out of style in Rossini and Wagner, fully committed and convincing in Cilea and positive in Verdi. The Orchestra accompanied well and added Wagner´s Prelude to the Third Act of "Lohengrin", curiously with a soft conclusion, a pleasant Notturno from Martucci and the Intermezzo from Leoncavallo´s "I Pagliacci".

            Further showing his versatility and amazing memory (all without a score) he conducted in the Second Part  "Muchacho jujeño" from "Tres romances argentinos" by Guastavino, and Chausson´s admirable and rarely played Symphony, a dense, 32-minute three-movement score deeply influenced by Franck. It showed without doubt that Rosario has both a symphony orchestra and a conductor of very respectable level.

            I had high hopes for the concert of the Orquesta Juvenil del Bicentenario conducted by Alejo Pérez for the Midday Concerts of the Mozarteum. The results were beyond expectations; I was bowled over by their interpretation of Mahler´s First and I didn´t mind hearing it again. It´s a huge orchestra (100 players), the players come form all over Argentina and I didn´t recognize a single name. 

            Pérez is our most distinguished young conductor and his reading was characteristically precise and unexaggerated. It sounded like he had a long rehearsal period but  the result was so good because previously there was a great job of selecting players, probably done by Pérez himself. Minor smudges apart, there were impressive soloists, good intonation and the kind of commitment essential for lasting work.

            The Orchestra was formed under the aegis of the Nation´s Education Ministry in 2010; they played the Fantastic Symphony by Berlioz in August 2012 for the Midday series but I missed it. There´s no information about their activities and I don´t know if the Orchestra only has presentations when Pérez is in the country. It should have a full calendar with various conductors, for it is the best of its kind.

For Buenos Aires Herald

Italian opera set in France and Spain

            In the space of one week two Italian operas were offered that are set respectively in France and in Spain. Francesco Cilea´s "Adriana Lecouvreur" happens in Paris about 1730 during Louis XV´s reign, and Giuseppe Verdi´s "Don Carlo" gives us a somber view of  love and politics in Felipe II´s times. The first was staged by Buenos Aires Lírica at the Avenida, the second was seen just once at the Coliseo as a project of the Italian Consulate General. The first was a success, the second had serious troubles.
            "Adriana..." was premiered here in 1903 at the Teatro de la Ópera months after the Italian unveiling of this new opera; the Colón waited until 1948 to stage it, and then  did so in 1951, 1987 and 1994. Buenos Aires Lírica presented it in 2005; as other opera companies ( I believe) didn´t attempt it, it was pleasant to see it again, for "Adriana..." is a charming work.
            Basically it tells a tangled erotic quadrangle involving the great actress Adrienne Lecouvreur (star of the Comédie Française) with Maurice of Saxony, Duke of Courland (in present-day Latvia), and the vengeance of his erstwhile lover, the Princess of Bouillon (married to the Duke of Bouillon); it ends badly, with poor Adrienne poisoned by the Princess.
            Although Cilea wrote during the "verismo" years, his temperament was refined; an able orchestrator and inspired melodist, his music rarely descends to crudity and often touches moments of delicate delineation of character. He revised the opera in 1930 and that´s the version generally done nowadays. The libretto by Arturo Colautti is based on a play by Eugène Scribe and Ernest Legouvé, and undoubtedly it has aged; many fragments seem overemphatic and rhetoric. But it keeps an attractive aspect: the theatre within the theatre. For  there are two female and two male "sociétaires" (associates) of the Comédie, and we are shown the backstage coordinated by Michonnet, the stage director of the Comédie, prior to playing Racine´s "Bajazet". (To make matters more complicated, Michonnet is in love with Adrienne, who doesn´t know it).
            This revival was attractive, for it had a good cast, convincing musical leadership (Carlos Vieu and Juan Casasbellas) and a decent production that respects time and place. The only bothersome factor was that trendy mania, the unit set (Noelia González Svoboda); in this case a rectangular box officiating as a stage (First Act), a hiding place (Second), a different stage in the Bouillon Palace and  a symbolic stage in Adriana´s house. It worked partially, but otherwise Crystal Manich´s handling of the proceedings was sensitive and logical, with fine costumes by Lucía Marmorek and good lighting by Rubén Conde.
            Our soprano Virginia Wagner was back after some years of working in Europe; she was a handsome Adriana, singing with much taste and dramatic sense, although a bit lacking in volume, especially in the low range. Adriana Mastrángelo looked and sounded splendid as the Princess. Brazilian tenor Eric Herrero was a swaggering hero but he sang too fixedly; his phrasing wanted more nuances. Predictably Omar Carrión was a well-acted and sung Michonnet. The Prince and his sidekick the intrigue-prone Abbé de Chazeuil were strongly impersonated by Christian Pellegrino and  Sergio Spina, and the four "sociétaires" gamboled with ease (Eugenia Coronel, Griselda Adano, Mauro Di Bert and Walter Schwarz).
             I wish I could be happier about the Coliseo´s "Don Carlo" (the 4-act Italian version) for it is one of my favorite Verdis. Yes, Schiller and the librettists take many liberties and there are "non sequiturs", but so much of the music is moving and innovative that in a good version it can be an inspiring portrait of human nature mixing love, politics and religion. Not this time, where the only saving grace was the individual good work of some singers.
            I have to be blunt: I haven´t seen anything as badly organised in years. It transpired that the ad-hoc orchestra was assembled at a very late time after other orchestras refused to participate, and that conductor Enrique Roel was substituted  by César Tello. The unknown Nelson Coccalotto proved inept in his various jobs as stage director, lighting designer and conductor of the Coro Opera Studio Rosario, and Armando Garrido brought the Coro IMMA from the Instituto de Música de Avellaneda; the two choirs produced the sound of an undernourished and poorly amateur half-choir.
             The orchestra, with the exception of first cello Carlos Nozzi, was appallingly bad, especially the brass. The stage band was a puny synthesizer (horrible!) in the orchestra. The stage was dominated in every scene by a huge black crucified Christ obliterating any semblance of logic.
            To boot, no one seemed to know when to light the hall in the intervals, nor were they able to assemble the artists for curtain calls within reasonable time. The supertitles were wrongly translated, out of phase,  and disappeared totally during the whole Second Act. Attendance was poor. If they are going to keep doing opera at the Coliseo they will sorely need an expert to coordinate matters. I believe the Coliseo is viable and it has a pit that holds about 90 players.
            For some reason (no explanation) the announced debut of Italian tenor Raffaele Sepe didn´t take place and our tenor Fernando Chalabe had to step in at the last minute. He barely managed but it was a  brave effort under the circumstances. The best singing came from Haydée Dabusti as a dignified Elisabetta who phrased with taste. Anabella Carnevali (Eboli) has a huge voice but has to polish her technique.
            Leonardo López Linares is a stalwart baritone of very firm highs but his Falstaffian proportions were hardly those of the great warrior Posa. Uruguayan bass Marcelo Otegui offered a very correct job as Filippo, but of course the role needs much more. The tremendous duet with the Inquisitor (Marcelo Boluña) was quite pale. Joel Damián Ramírez sang nicely as the Page, though it´s quite un-Verdian to substitute a soprano with a countertenor.  Luciano Straguzzi sounded well as the Priest, belatedly recognised as being the deceased Charles V! The others will best remain unnamed.
            All this for just one badly prepared performance of a very demanding opera. Whoever thought at the Coliseo that this venture could work?

For Buenos Aires Herald

jueves, junio 05, 2014

Yes, it´s opera! (from Greek incest to Porteño pimps and whores)

I recently wrote about the diversity of opera as an art form. In this review you will find two prime examples: Jean-Philippe Rameau´s initial opera "Hippolyte et Aricie" and the premiere of a short Argentine chamber opera, "Ultramarina", music by Pablo Mainetti and libretto by Edgardo Cozarinsky. The first at the Usina del Arte for three performances, the second at the small theatre Hasta Trilce for a considerable number of evenings.

Rameau´s irruption into the operatic French scene was late but momentous: "Hippolyte..." was written at 50 in 1733; the composer would dominate Parisian opera for the next thirty years. Rameau would write in extremely varied subjects, going from the "tragédie lyrique" (such as "Hippolyte..."), to "opéras-ballet" such as "Les Indes Galantes" or light intermezzos such as "Pigmalion".

"Hippolyte" has a typical Baroque libretto by Simon-Joseph Pellegrin based on Racine´s "Phèdre", who had Euripides´ "Hippolytus" as reference. It follows Lully´s five-act scheme and as his predecessor has "divertissements" (dance interludes) , but in many senses what Rameau does is new. Astonishing harmonic command (Rameau wrote the first important treaty on the subject), imaginative orchestration, beautiful melodies, strong contrasts, deep expression in dramatic moments...

The story involves Hippolytus, the son of the Demigod hero Theseus and the amazon Antiope, and Aricia belongs to the Palantides, enemies of Theseus. Phaedra is Theseus´wife. Gods intervene: Diana, Neptune through his messenger Mercury, and Pluto, King of Hell. Eventually, Phaedra´s love for Hippolytus, considered a crime, will take the lives of both, but the young lovers will marry, for Diana will bring back Hippolytus to life.

As far as I know, the only Rameau operas offered in B.A. have been "Castor et Pollux" (twice) and "Les Indes Galantes" (semi-staged), apart from the premiere three years ago of "Hippolyte..." by the same group under Marcelo Birman that now has revived it, the Compañía de las Luces. He is our local specialist in French Eighteenth-century opera (either by Frenchmen or by visiting composers) and we owe him Rameau, Lully and Salieri premieres, as well as a splendid Gluck revival, "Iphigénie en Tauride".

Back in 2011 the premiere was at the Museo de Arte Decorativo, certainly cozier and warmer than the Usina; but also smaller, forcing a very limited staging. The producer then and now as Pablo Maritano; I found his work then rather irrelevant, seemingly based on re-disposing chairs. Well, in the new version he does this with a vengeance and it soon grows tiresome. With unaccountable modern costumes (uncredited) the singers´ relationships are sometimes clear enough, but a lot looks arbitrary. I found especially bothersome Carlos Trunsky´s outlandish choreography, tasteless and out-of-style.

The best singer, then and now, was Marisa Pavón as a strong, tragic Phaedra. Ana Moraitis seemed diminished in volume and rather wan as Aricia compared to 2011.

Sergio Carlevaris was a powerful bass Theseus, though his voice production sounded strange in some low tones. The current condition of Pablo Pollitzer´s timbre is so harsh that his knowledge of the style doesn´t come through.

The solid voice of Norberto Marcos gave us a positive Pluto, a bit too rough. Beatriz Moruja as Diana was miscast; we needed a young contralto with the agile looks of a huntress. The rest were below par and won´t be named here. The two women dancers seemed better to me than the men, but they all had to deal with ungrateful steps.

By far, apart from Pavón, the best things were the 19-singer Choir, accurate and with very good voices (prepared by Marcelo Dutto) and the able historicist ensemble, made up of 22 players and admirably led by Birman. A pity that the orchestra was relegated to the back of the stage, losing presence, and that Birman gave his back to the singers, making ensemble difficult. The Usina´s hall has no orchestral pit, unfortunately.

I will be brief about "Ultramarina". It deals with a hard subject, the Polish Jewish organisation of pimps and whores Zwi Migdal that was present in Argentina during the first thirty years of the Twentieth Century. The libretto is based on Cozarinsky´s novel "El rufián moldavo". The piece lasts about 55 minutes. The music by Pablo Mainetti is tango-inspired and gives an adequate blend of contemporary techniques.

The story involves four Polish whores-against-their-will, the madam, the pimp and the lover of one of the girls. One of these will become a popular singer in BA, fleeing from Rosario. And one will die.

This was a project of Marcelo Lombardero when he was at the CETC and had the backing of the then-extant Fundación Szterenfeld; the money was received and with it several years later the staging was possible. And it was good: as producer Lombardero avoided the grotesque pitfalls and dealt sensitively with the scabrous story line. With expressive lighting by Horacio Efron and a stage design that permitted veiling (Noelia González Svoboda) the chamber opera gave us a convincing picture of sordid situations.

The singers responded quite well both vocally and as realistic actors: Victoria Gaeta, Trini Goyeneche, Myriam Toker and Rocío Arbizu as the whores, Marta Cullerés as a truculent madam, Santiago Bürgi as an intense lover and Norberto Marcos as the brutal pimp. The 11-player ensemble responded well to Andrés Juncos´ conducting.

Both operas are in deep contrast but tackle extreme dilemmas of life. Two brave private companies deserve support for their enterprise.

For Buenos Aires Herald

A couple of orchestras plus some chamber music

This will be a survey of two recent orchestral concerts plus one of chamber music. Two sessions of Nuova Harmonia at the Coliseo are the main material.

The first presented L´Arte del Mondo, paradoxically a German chamber orchestra, led by its concertino and founder Werner Ehrhardt. The group exists since 2004 and has been here before. Their residence is in the Ruhr, at Leverkusen´s Bayer Arts and Culture complex.

Violinist Daniel Hope is South African-born but raised in Great Britain. Some years ago he played with the B.A. Philharmonic Berg´s Concerto. Now he was back, and his presence wasn´t limited to a single concerto; instead, he dominated the programme by playing no less than three scores.

The ensemble was made up of 10 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, 1 bass, 1 harpsichord, 2 oboes and 2 horns: 20 players coordinated by body gesture from his concertino seat by Ehrhardt. This works when the group is solidly professional, everyone has the feeling of a team and an expert like Ehrhardt settles technical and stylistic matters. All this was amply demonstrated in a very good performance of Mozart´s Symphony Nº 29, which joins Nº 25 as the most accomplished of that composer´s early period (it´s K.201 and he was only 18!).

If Mozart´s maturity amazes, the case is even more so concerning Mendelssohn´s Concerto for violin and strings, written at l3. The piece remained forgotten until 1951 when an Oxford antiquary made it known to Yehudi Menuhin. This early score is astonishingly proficient and often inspired.

Hope proved from the beginning that he is an intense player of important means; the initial movement is in D minor and was played with a sense of drama that communicated strongly. The sweetness of the "Andante non troppo" didn´t cloy, and the final "Allegro" maybe was too gypsy but certainly enjoyable. The rapport with the orchestra was excellent.

The J.S.Bach Concerto for two violins is an always welcome standard; it was played by Hope and Andrea Keller (from the orchestra) with nice give-and-take. Finally, Hope chose Mozart´s least played Violin Concerto, Nº 1, K.207, maintaining the period of Symphony Nº 29. Although I disliked the cadenzas (not written by Mozart and sounding too modern), it was pleasant to hear this neglected Concerto, which is quite virtuosic for its time. Hope had some slips but in general played quite well, as did the orchestra excepting a couple of horns croaks.

I didn´t enjoy the encores, two movements from Vivaldi´s "The Four Seasons" in unacceptable modern arrangements and lengthenings, but Hope and the strings played brilliantly.

I was disappointed by the concert combining the Sestetto Stradivari (debut) with Eduardo Hubert, the Argentine pianist residing in Italy. The string sextet (2 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos) is an attractive amplification of the quartet allowing for great harmonic richness and complementary counterpoint. Nevertheless it has attracted few composers, but at least four scores are first-rate: the two Brahms Sextets, Schönberg´s "Transfigured Night" and Tchaikovsky´s "Souvenir de Florence". Any combination of these would have been very welcome, for it is a texture rarely heard.

However (maybe because Hubert is Argentine) in this tour they began with a Piano Quintet, and it proved a bad thing, not because of the chosen piece, Dvorák´s wonderful Second Quintet, Op.81. The execution sounded poorly rehearsed, with plenty of technical mishaps both from the pianist and the string players, with the exception of the cello, who displayed a warm sound and good intonation. And the interpretation veered from dreaminess to hectic turbulence.

The Second Part was better; we heard the full sextet in Brahms´ magnificent Op. 18, to my mind the best music ever invented for this combination, and they did play better for it´s obviously essential repertoire for them, but I have to report a rare circumstance: their names weren´t in the hand programme by their own will! Investigating I found that in Google the same players are listed than the ones who played here (I got their names from impeccable sources), so they certainly know each other well, and all are members of the famous Accademia Nazionale Santa Cecilia of Rome.

They exist since 2001 and they play Stradivari instruments. If I weren´t told I wouldn´t have surmised it. I found both the first violin and the first viola substandard, and the rest were good but no more except the aforementioned first cello. I will respect their willed anonymate. Many of the counterpoints weren´t heard clearly and intonation and vibrato weren´t uniform. But the music is so wonderful that it prevailed.

The encores were two tangos written by Hubert and they were better played than all the rest!

Some months ago I wrote about the predicament of the Orquesta Estable de RTA, facing dismemberment until saved by a judicial sentence. The judge ordered that the Orchestra be recognized by the authorities and provided with concert programming. Two have taken place at the auditorium of Radio Nacional and I heard the second, before a sparse audience due to suspiciously mediocre publicity.

My verdict: they deserve to live. Apart from a mediocre flutist in Fauré´s Pavane, all the music was correctly played and conducted (by Marcelo Zurlo): Gianneo´s "Obertura para una comedia infantil" and Mozart´s "Don Giovanni" Overture and Symphony Nº 36, "Linz". Plus Piazzolla´s "Libertango" as a protest encore. I wish them good luck.

For Buenos Aires Herald

Cosmopolitan musical wonder: Bavarian orchestra,Lettish conductor, Japanese pianist

Sometimes one goes out of a concert convinced that the evening was memorable and will hardly be matched during the season. That was my feeling when I went to the so-called Colón Abono Especial and heard what I felt had been the unbeatable combination of the Bavarian Radio Orchestra (BRO) with its Principal Conductor Mariss Jansons and the long-awaited debut in BA of pianist Mitsuko Ushida. You will probably think this rash on my part if you think of the promised Argerich- Barenboim- West Eastern Divan Orchestra in August; let´s wait and see...

The BRO, Jansons and Ushida offered three concerts at the Colón in successive days, the first and third for the Mozarteum Argentino, the second for the Abono Especial. One item didn´t change: Beethoven´s Fourth Concerto. Different symphonies occupied the Second Part: Brahms´ Second, the "Fantastic Symphony" by Berlioz and Shostakovich´s Nº5. I couldn´t hear the first concert; I´m commenting on the other two.

The Bavarian Radio Orchestra has long been one of the best in the world and has had prominent Principal Conductors since its inception, when it was founded by Eugen Jochum in 1949 (unfortunately the great Jochum never came here). He was succeeded by the talented Rafael Kubelik in 1961, and three years later I had the enormous pleasure of hearing them in Paris playing the mighty Mahler Ninth (Kubelik recorded all of them with the BRO). From 1983 on, Colin Davis took over, and from 1993 the PC was Lorin Maazel, who brought the Orchestra to the Mozarteum in 1995 in admirable concerts. Since 2003 their conductor is Jansons.

You will remember that he was here last year at the helm of what many believe to be the best orchestra of all, the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam. Before that he had already visited us with the Oslo Philharmonic: he converted it into a world-class outfit. I believe he also came with the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic (he was a pupil of Evgeny Mravinsky, longtime conductor of that orchestra when it was called the Leningrad Philharmonic). Jansons is now 71 and remains in full form.

I have long known Mitsuko Uchida for her recordings, as she has done no less than the integral of Mozart´s Sonatas and Concerti and Schubert´s Sonatas. The marvelous sensibility, command of style and consumate technique of them has now been amply proved by a Beethoven Fourth that will remain in the annals of the Colón as a radiant milestone. She looks agile and flexible at 66 and she projects from the very beginning the sort of concentration that will keep the hearer alert throughout, as the revelations unfold unceasingly in such well-known music without ever putting a finger or a foot wrong. Some felt she lacked a degree of strength but this isn´t a barnstorming concerto; instead, it has some of Beethoven´s most poetical ideas.

It was a good thing that her encores showed her innate taste and delicacy in other composers: the slow movement of Mozart´s Sonata Nº 10, and a Bach Sarabande. One important point: as a recent interview pointed out that she travels with her own Steinway, I suppose this was the case, and I can only report that it sounded very well.

It is a special pleasure to hear an orchestra and a conductor that take the accompanying job with the seriousness and care of detail needed if you aim for a great total performance. The orchestra sounded clean but warm, solid but subtle, and always hand-in-glove with Uchida.

I am a veteran and I have heard dozens of "Fantastics", some of them very good (Van Otterloo, Cluytens, Markevich, Barbirolli, Mehta), so I won´t exaggerate and claim this as the best, but it was certainly in a sustained high level. It showed the qualities of the orchestra: perfect tuning and agreement between the various groups; great discipline but always full of life; first-rate soloists; and that special "Mittel-Europa" feeling of tradition in their bones.

Of course, Jansons has worked with them for more than ten years and he and the orchestra are evidently in full accord. Jansons never exaggerates; he makes the orchestra sound very powerful but also brings them to the wispiest of pianissimi, and they keep the quality of timbre at every level of dynamics or speed. His tempi are sane , his phrasing orthodox. No surprises from him, but honest and positive music-making.

His encores were a funny and off beat choice, the Albéniz Tango as arranged with humor by Rodion Shchedrin, and the Ochs Waltz that ends Richard Strauss´ Suite from "Der Rosenkavalier": subtlety in the first and brilliance in the second.

The third concert gave me another rendition of Beethoven´s Fourth Concerto, fractionally less perfect, and then a stupendous Shostakovich Fifth: Jansons is a specialist that has recorded all 15 symphonies of the great Russian (he studied at least some with Mravinsky). Jansons went through the experience of the USSR and certainly knows all about the composer´s troubles with Stalin: his tempi and phrasing showed complete penetration of this masterpiece´s veiled resistance. The orchestra was simply amazing in every particular.

I am sure that the chosen encore had for Jansons a political meaning: the frenetic Interlude from Shostakovich´s "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" is exciting and was quite a goodbye in their terrific playing, but this opera so angered Stalin that Shostakovich feared for his life!

For Buenos Aires Herald

The fantastic variety of opera

These days operas as different as they can be showed the fantastic variety of the genre, and in my case, reaffirmed once again that the richness of this art form has no bounds. The Argentino offered Rossini´s "L´Italiana in Algeri"; Buenos Aires Lírica a so-called "Wagnerfest!", fragments in concert version.

"L´Italiana in Algeri" ("The Italian Girl in Algiers"), with a brilliant libretto by Angelo Anelli, was premiered in 1813 at Venice´s Teatro San Benedetto when the prodigiously gifted composer was only 21 and had already written 9 operas!

This year it was programmed by Guillermo Brizzio, who was the conductor of the La Plata premiere in 1986 ( I presented it in 1992 during my brief tenure as Director General; that time the conductor was Bruno D´Astoli and it marked the debut of tenor Darío Schmunck).

A parenthesis: in the authorities page of the hand programme no mention is made of the Artistic Director, a post held by Brizzio until a month ago; he has been replaced by Gabriel Senanes, who hasn´t yet taken up his post. Meanwhile, who´s running artistic matters?

Pablo Maritano was the producer of "L´Italiana...." and he is thoroughly trendy: deliberately against the original historical context; funny but sometimes gross; fast, almost frenetic; well-rehearsed and professional. As to the first point, transposition in time can work only up to a point: the Ottoman Empire disappeared after World War I, so if you (as is my case) care for historic coherence in opera, you won´t accept a Turkish Sultan, a band of seraglio eunuchs, tourists in a modern cruiser, pirates that look like Al Qaeda recruits, etc. Also you may feel that obsession with sex goes too far.

But the bubbly Rossinian spirit was present.

Mind you, this opera has a very modern libretto: Isabella is a feminist, an expert at manipulation of men and a patriot (I´m surprised that the Austrian Venetian censure accepted her ardent invocation of Italy when Italian unity was a half-century away) and Mustafa is a ridiculous fool.

Costumes by Sofía Di Nunzio are bright, imaginative and farcical, and the stage designs of Andrea Mercado take advantage of the big Argentino stage; drops allow fast scene changes (admittedly rather noisy). The lighting by Alejandro Le Roux helped to create the illusion of an exotic, colorful Maghreb.

There were two casts, I saw the first, and I was sorry to see that the audience was small. Mariana Rewerski has the "physique du rôle" and is a good comedian, but her voice is weak in the lower reaches and the florid technique is average. The Chilean bass baritone Ricardo Seguel has powerful means and is quite uninhibited in his broad but convincing tomfoolery. Tenor Santiago Ballerini has an unpreposessing presence but the part lies high and he can cope. Luciano Miotto is one of the few local specialists in the buffo style and his Taddeo was completely idiomatic.

The Bey´s rejected wife and her companion were sung and played with gusto by Oriana Favaro and Rocío Arbizu. Juan Pablo Labourdette was musically a good Haly, though he had to deal with the absurd marking of the role, continually aiming his gun at anybody.

In this luxurious production the choir is often present singing with enthusiasm and quality (prepared by Hernán Sánchez Arteaga), proving quite willing to collaborate with Maritano´s shenanigans as very feminine eunuchs, naked-torso courtisans or participants in the ridiculous Kaimakan and Pappataci ceremonies (funny Anelli contraptions). Brazilian conductor Viegas proved as effective in comedy as he had been in Wagner last year, with good collaboration from the orchestra.

Which gives me an easy lead to the BAL´s "Wagnerfest!". The Avenida´s pit can hold only 45 players, so the only time Wagner was given years ago ("The Flying Dutchman") the orchestration had to be reduced. This time we had 85 players but on the stage; maybe BAL will eventually adopt the Coliseo to give us complete and fully staged Wagner.

The conductor of an uneven ad-hoc orchestra was the Chilean Pedro-Pablo Prudencio, rather good in general terms but unfortunately lacking in judgment as to programming. To an already long night he added unnecessarily the "Tannhäuser" Bacchanale, in the worst possible moment after the virgin Elisabeth´s Second Act entrance aria, "Dich teure Halle". Prudencio was not prudent but prurient. Also, he mixed the Paris version (Bacchanale) with the Dresden Overture. Instead the Third Act block was coherent: Prelude,Wolfram´s recitative, Elisabeth´s Prayer and Wolfram´s recitative and aria (song to the evening star). Total 57´ with the Overture at the end! And no pause. We had lovely singing from Carla Filipcic Holm and sensitive artistry from Hernán Iturralde.

Strangely Prudencio put first "Götterdämmerung" than "Die Walküre", and, even stranger, he went directly from the former to the latter, again with no pause. From "Götterdämmerung" only orchestral music: from the Prologue, "Dawn" and "Siegfried´s Rhine Journey" preceded by the purely orchestrated last four minutes of the radiant Siegfried-Brünnhilde Duet; and then the orchestrated Siegfried´s farewell to life and his marvelous Funeral Music. From "Walküre": the enormous final duo of Wotan and Brünnhilde. Both Filipcic Holm and Iturralde did well, but they were less comfortable in these heroic parts than in "Tannhäuser". Apart from some bad horn croaks in "Götterdämmerung", the orchestral playing was respectable.

Last time "Tannhäuser" was staged at the Colón: 1994. "Götterdämmerung": 1998. "Die Walküre": 2005. Last complete "Ring":1967... We are falling behind.

For Buenos Aires Herald