Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Maria de Buenos Aires - Vicenza, Italy

With one caveat, the production of Maria de Buenos Aires captured in part in today's video is truly exceptional. Maria de Buenos Aires was always described as an "operita" - a little opera, but when first produced it was more of an oratorio. Staging was minimal and parts were sung without the insertion of dramatic movement. Others have taken the opposite approach and delivered elaborate productions worthy of the title, "opera" with fancy orchestration and a coloratura soprano in the lead. The production in today's video is closer to the latter than the former but has retained considerable authenticity in the music. What is available on YouTube is unusual in its completeness. You can view the entire operita in a series of 14 high quality videos. If you have always been curious about Maria de Buenos Aires, here is a chance to see a quality production of the whole thing.

There is a bandoneonist on the stage, Massimiliano Pitocco, and an orchestra in the pit led by musical director, Marco Tezza. Their work is superb - they capture the nuevo tango sensibility and have respected Piazzolla's original score. The role of El Duende is played with just the right sense of gravitas and foreboding by Piergiorgio Piccoli. He is a worthy replacement for Horacio Ferrer who not only wrote the libretto but starred as El Duende in the original production (and in many productions since). The male vocal lead (he covers several parts) is Ruben Peloni and he is excellent. And then the caveat: the role of Maria is not well sung or played by Victoria Lyamina. In another context, Ms. Lyamina may be excellent but she shows no understanding of the role or of the music in this production. You will not see Ms. Lyamina in the video below - you need to go all the way to the fourth of the fourteen videos which complete the series to see her. The dancing almost merits a second caveat: it is full of drama and may not be to your taste - it reminds me of soap operas I have seen on Italian television - but it is interesting.

If you enjoy this first video, you can find the other thirteen on this YouTube channel.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

1 comment:

  1. This "little tango opera" remains a work of stunning originality. Indeed, the alchemy achieved here by tango master Astor Piazzolla and librettist Horacio Ferrer involves a particular amalgam of music and surrealist poetry that is part cabaret, part smoky Sprechstimme, and ultimately sui generis. Violinist Gidon Kremer and a tight ensemble of colleagues show keen empathy for this symbolist allegory of an ambiguous, archetypal journey of the soul. I liked it a lot. I actually learnt about this last year when I was in my buenos aires apartment and heard a song by Astor Piazzola on the radio.
    I fell for it!