Roma, 29 giu (Prima Pagina News) At the International Opera Festival in Miskolc – Bartók PluszOperafesztivál – MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES was performed, a “tango-operita” in English with Hungariansubtitles. The piece of art is a hymn to passion, lust, and supernatural; it is considered one of the most admiredworks of Astor Piazzolla, inspired and dedicated to an Italian singer, woman friend, in a book by Horacio Ferrer,co-produced by Operaview and Deco Ensemble with Natalie Katsou, a young Greek director.
The performance was an unexpected appeal, sensual, difficult, but especially surreal and even enigmatic forcertain observers; however, considering the people involved and the Italian inspiration, it is dedicated, without adoubt, to a hidden attraction. It is a work in two parts and eight acts each, considered abstract by countlessinterpretive points of views. There is the angel-black-poet-analyst who sometimes protects Mary, sometimesignores her; Mary is capable of passing down to the public an interpretive enigma that leaves it open to any stateof mind.
The original production was precisely this; each interpreter succeeds in offering a performance that
entwines with the other. Thus, a work that stimulates sociological imagination and also exhibits the concrete
elements to observe a typical Buenos Aires' "barrio" poor environment. For this purpose the interpretation suits the music of Astor Piazzolla on a stage that also shows a symbol linked to the present: a rain of red female shoes. All this amalgam was possible through the fusion of a trans-national cast in London, but coming from different cultural experiences from countries such as Greece, Holland, Portugal, Montenegro, Japan …
MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES was performed for the first time in the Colon Theater of the Argentine metropolisin 1968; in the first part, is the scenic transposition of a prostitute in Buenos Aires put in parallel in an irreverentway, desecrating the image of the madonna; the second part, takes place after her death and is referred to as”the shadow of Mary”. The scenery is a suburb of Buenos Aires where Mary was born, who heading to the centerof the city waiting lurking – is attracted to the tango eroticism and she becomes a prostitute. In the locationwhere she spends time, her death is decided and condemned to live in the brothel-city in the form of a ghost,”shadow” (linking her brothel slang to the poetry of the angels) where she meets: a morally mediocre gnome-poet (that the public called the “black angel”) who plays the aesthetic role from charlatan, who is the narrativevoice, appears and disappears, to give way to the “puppeteers” – which he himself controls – andpsychoanalysts.
Returning to virginity Mary becomes pregnant through the words of the angel-black poet; this is how Marywould be her. As Wilfredo Pareto would say, only afterwards the work is well-understood and – for those withadequate mental versatility – it becomes an occasion to meditate between religiosity, deviance and pride. MARIADE BUENOS AIRES is a piece that for its initial abstract effect attracts attention from the first to the last instant.Therefore, in order to express entirely the concepts presented, the work had to “necessarily” be shown in theduration for which it was produced. However, since it is an abstract work it is as if – in the specific case – thenon-passionate of this art are bored. But it is a work for connoisseurs, cultured people and versatile minds.
Interpreters: Béatrice de Larragoiti (Maria), with Leonel Pinheiro (analyst), Bianca Vrcan, Sacha El Masry(dancers), Matthew Wade. In addition, with the art direction of Natalie Katsou: Amarins Wierdsma, ElenaMarigomey, Ricardo Gosalbo, Bartosz Glowacki, Rob Luft (musicians), Jemina Robinson (scene), Yainnis Katsaris(collaboration with the scene), Kate Royds (costumes), Sana Zamaguchi (Lights), Ricardo Gosalbo (music),Amelia Sweetland (deputy director). A young and enthusiastic group that even behind the scenes of the NationalTheater in Miskolc – toasting with a glass of excellent Hungarian wine – received a further dose worthy ofappreciation. I am particularly pleased to have attended the tango opera of Astor Piazzolla MARIA DE BUENOSAIRES.
(PPN) 29 giu 2017 17:26
Austerity is the mother of invention, as they now say, and nowhere is this better illustrated than in Operaview’s new touring production. The double bill – Mozart’s mini love story Bastien & Bastienne with Gustav Holst’s spiritual Savitri – employs little more than a white muslin sheet, a string of paper dolls and human shadows to set the scene. Yet its soft artistic flair transports us to another world.
The Etcetera theatre is the tiniest I’ve ever sat in. The black boxy studio is tucked like a crow’s nest in the roof above The Oxford Arms pub on Camden High Street. It can’t seat more than 40, and tonight we’re about fifteen. Not the best turnout for Operaview (it is a Monday night) but great for us – it feels like we’re getting a private recital from three of the country’s top young singers.
The production is short but sweet, which also suites us well. Bastien & Bastienne (composed when Mozart was twelve – an age at which many musicians are still grappling with the recorder) is just forty minutes, and Savitri has been pruned down to twenty. “In these intimate theatres, we don’t want people to start wondering when the show will end”, says Greek-born director Natalie Katsou, whose modus operandi is to present digestible-length operas in non-conventional spaces, and to bring a fresh perspective to traditional story telling.
This evening ticks all the boxes. It might feel like a whistle stop tour, but these are perfect snippets for an introduction to opera, or if you can’t quite stomach ENO’s six-hour Mastersingers of Nuremburg. Or if, like us, you’re after a light injection of music into your evening plans (by 8.30pm, my friend and I are ordering dinner at a nearby restaurant).
oprano Helen Bailey plays the huffy Bastienne, disgruntled by her boyfriend’s lack of effort. She decides to play hard to get, with the help of her friend Colas (sung by suave baritone Joseph Kennedy) which works well and the relationship quickly gets back on track.
Clearly, Katsou’s priority is storytelling. She keeps things simple, setting the action in present day Camden town so we have no trouble relating to the characters, and tweaking the libretto to fit with modern lingo. There’s plenty of spoken script (during which the performers slightly over play their characters) so it feels more like a short play with incidental songs.
Singing is these performers’ forte. Between them, Bailey, Kennedy and tenor Alessandro Fisher boast training from the Royal College of Music, Trinity Conservatoire and Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and gracefully adjust their qualified voices to the damp acoustics. Musical director and talented repetiteur Amber Rainey handles the reduced score with sensitivity, her hands quite literally cradling the notes as she strokes the keys of the electric keyboard and draws as much sentiment from the instrument as she can.
Our snapshot of Holst’s Savitri (a one-act opera written 150 years later, during the composer’s ‘Sanskrit period’) lures us into a mythological Indian forest, where Death pays a visit to Savitri (Bailey) as she sleeps. He’s come for her husband, Satyavan (Fisher). Blue light shines through the muslin, as the shadow of Death (Kennedy) looms overhead and the silhouettes of cut-out figures ‘dance’ along a piece of string like Indian shadow puppets. The music itself is simple and evocative; Kennedy and Bailey’s voices interweave a cappella as the story begins, and we’re sucked into the exotic, modal, Far-Eastern sound.
It couldn’t be further from the Mozart, and yet reinforces the evening’s uplifting theme of love’s triumph against the odds. And as Operaview continue to triumph over a lack of funding, I hope more people discover this extraordinarily creative little company.
By Francesca Wickers