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Opera Buenos Aires 2018 – A Mixed Bag 

The Teatro Colón’s 2018 season comes from a new team with Enrique Arturo Diemecke now the artistic and production director-general, and with it some reorganisation and innovation of activities.

Numerically the season is about the same as 2017, taking into account cancellations/postponements and with the change of an oratorio in place of an opera to make seven operas and the oratorio and also three chamber operas.

The good news is that there is a balanced selection of works, even if overall the programme isn’t the most exciting. But alongside in other sections of the Colón’s programme, there is more of interest for the opera lover.

The season kicks off on 13 March with Peter Eötvös’ 1997 Three Sisters, which was originally scheduled for October of this year. The new Colón production is by Rubén Szuchmacher with Christian Schumann conducting, and principals including Jovita Vaskeviciute, Anna Laprovskaja and Elvira Hasanagić.

Marking the 150th anniversary of the death of Rossini, his ever-popular L’ Italiana in Algeri follows in May. A co-production with the San Sebastian Musical Fortnight and San Lorenzo del Escorial Festival, the production is by Joan Anton Rechi and musical direction by Antonello Allemandi. Principals include Nancy Fabiola Herrera, Nahuel Di Pierro, Xabier Anduaga and Damon Ploumis.

Marking the 110th anniversary of the inauguration of the Teatro Colón, Aida will be presented in late May/June in Roberto Oswald’s 1996 conception. Carlos Vieu will be on the pedestal with principals Latonia Moore, Nadia Krasteva, Riccardo Massi and Mark Rucker, and no less than two local casts.

Very much a highlight for the year – and presented as part of the now annual Barenboim Festival – will be Harry Kupfer’s Berlin Staatsoper production of Tristan und Isolde in July. Peter Seiffert and Anja Kempe will be in the title roles along with Barenboim and the Staatskapelle orchestra in the pit.

August/September sees a return of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, last put on in 2011, in a new production by Gustavo Tambascio. Diemecke will conduct Giuseppe Filianotti and Veronica Cangemi in the title roles and other principals David Maze, Lucas Debevec Mayer and Adriana Mastrangelo.

Another repeat work from relatively recently – from the Teatro Colón reopening in 2010 – is La bohème in October. A co-production with the Tenerife Opera and National Auditorium Sodre in Uruguay by Stefano Trespidi and musical direction by Joseph Colaneri, the principals include Mariana Ortiz, Attala Ayan, Fabian Veloz and Jaquelina Livieri.

 Haydn’s The Seasons follows in November with Carmen Moral conducting and local soloists Daniela Tabernig, Hernan Iturralde and Carlos Ullan.

The season closes in November/December with a production of Norma. Renato Palumbo conducts and Stefano Viziolli directs with Barbara Frittoli in the title role, Annalisa Stroppa as Adalgisa and Gaston Rivero as Pollione.

Chamber operas and others

The three chamber operas for the year are Scarlatti’s Il Trionfo dell’onore in April, the 2012 Piedad by Brazilian João Guilherme Ripper in August/September and Thomas Adès’s Powder her face in December – all with local casts.

In addition to these, the 2018 season will include a choral symphony series comprised of Rossini’s Stabat Mater on 28 March and Petite Messe Solennelle on 1 September and Verdi’s Requiem on 3 July – similarly each with local soloists.

Another highlight for the year will be a series of concerts under the name of ‘Great international interpreters’. Among these will be recitals from Anna Netrebko in August (12, 15), Bryn Terfel on 5 September and Juan Diego Flórez on 26 September.

Buenos Aires independents

Juventus Lyrica continues its 2018 season with three productions.

These are Strauss’s Die Fledermaus (last put on in 2011), a double bill of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci in August/September and Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet in November. So far, no other details have been given.

And so on to the less good news alluded to in the heading – that Buenos Aires Lírica has decided not to present a season in 2018. In a statement the company said it had fulfilled its mission but was unable to continue to support such a costly art form under the current (read economic) conditions.

While promising a rethink of its activities in the coming year and not ruling out the possibility of future offerings, this is a significant loss. Since its launch in 2003 the company has put on 72 productions, including works little performed locally such as Handel’s Rodelinda, Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi and Dvořák’s Rusalka. It also has pursued new audiences with chamber style productions of Agrippina and Offenbach’s Ba-Ta-Clan.

Most importantly from a production perspective Buenos Aires Lírica has bridged the gap between the independents reliant on the younger singers and the Teatro Colón. While there seem to be a growing number of low budget independents, none appears to have the resources to fill that gap.

Jonathan Spencer Jones

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