sábado, febrero 20, 2016

The Colón´s operatic season 2017: A look into the future

            Early in December I sent an article called "Opera directors face the music together", the gist of which was the reunion of Iberoamerican opera directors with the intent of finding complementarization in opera planning. I ended it with a caveat: each theatre has its history and seasons must be programmed on solid historic reasons: stage the operas thar are really needed, and if you can find a way to share it, alright, but otherwise, face the music and do it.

            Earlier in the article  I cited five operas that were mentioned by Darío Lopérfido as possible candidates for 2017. According to a source who asked to remain anonymous, I got two other titles. This article elaborates on both informations and ventures a theory of my own as well as a hope.

            I´ll start with the hope: to have for 2017 what  is for me the very minimum quantity of titles that a Colón year should offer. As you know, ten operas will be seen this year although in nine nights or afternoons, for one of the titles will be made up of two short Dallapiccola scores. This is a substantial improvement from the seven titles we had in 2015, but I believe that good organisation and adequate budget should make it perfectly possible to arrive at ten titles. The conditions of public administration make it utopian to think in the terms of the Sixties: fourteen titles from April to December plus three in Summer; that´s what we had back then.

            Now the theory. It is an indisputed fact that Giuseppe Verdi is the champion among opera composers. I believe that an opera house of the Colón´s trajectory puts it in the group of ten most important in the world, even with its ups and downs, and that any planning requires a deep knowledge of its history but also of the repertoire: you have to take the long view and not only imagine 2017 but also as far as 2020 if you are to do a good job.

            I believe that a good way to do it is to imagine ten-year slices  and be aware of which operas should be revived : some will merit to be seen  within ten years, others after 15, still others after 20, 30 or once in a lifetime. Another guiding factor will be  to première wrongly neglected operas that must be incorporated if you consider the Colón a serious theatre...and I want to hope (that word again!) that it will be one.  And of course operas freshly created that give reasonable guarantees of quality.

            There are only two composers who have given us ten operas that merit to be in the ten-years slice: Verdi and Wagner.  The former has plenty of others that go into the fifteen-years slice whilst Wagner has none.  Wagner is a special case because four of his operas form the Ring and the ideal way is to give all four in one year. The Colón hasn´t been able to manage that since 1967 and I feel that to repeat that feat is a very long shot away. But two and two should be feasible (and particularly necessary after that horrid compressed Colón Ring).

            Now to the operas mentioned by Lopérfido. I quite agree with "Aida", last seen in 1996, so this is a long due Verdi. And with Richard Strauss´ "Der Rosenkavalier ", an essential work absent since 1998. We will have a Wagner première; at first sight this seems a nice idea, but truth to tell "Das Liebesverbot" ("Love´s Forbiddance"), based on Shakespeare´s "Measure for measure", is a rather charming completely uncharacteristic piece; it is logical for the Covent Garden to programme it, for the venerable London theatre attends to the basic Wagnerian repertoire, but the Colón doesn´t: it would be vastly more necessary to give us "The Mastersingers of Nuremberg", last seen, believe it or not, in 1980. And as 2016´s last opera, "Porgy and Bess", uses an imported choir,  it would be ideal to programme "The Mastersingers" starting the 2017 season.

            Weill´s "The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny" is a bitter pamphlet quite adequate to periods of reconstruction such as we face, as happened in the last revival, 1992. The possibility of an interesting première was mentioned: Villalobos´ "Yerma", on the García Lorca play.  So up to now we have five operas.

            However, two others would be added, according to a source who asked to remain anonymous. One is Händel´s best opera, "Giulio Cesare", only staged at the Colón in  1968; I do yearn for a historicist version, both in music and production. The other is Cilea´s "Adriana Lecouvreur", a fine opera seen at the Avenida a few years ago  but at the Colón the last date was 1994; we would have the presence of an important singer, Angela Georghiu.

            Three to go if we are to reach the magic number, ten. My choices: to top the season, the première that García Caffi wanted to give, the complete version of "Les Troyens" by Berlioz.  A long-awaited bel canto opera: Donizetti´s "Anna Bolena" ( only seen at  our main theatre in 1970). And the première of the Britten opera that is most missed, "Billy Budd". I only regret that I have no space for a Slav opera, Janácek or Rimsky-Korsakov (priorities for 2018).

For Buenos Aires Herald 

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