Buenos Aires travels to Haydn’s ‘World On The Moon’

Haydn, Il mondo della luna: Buenos Aires Lírica. Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of Buenos Aires Lírica, Conductor: Rodolfo Fischer. Teatro Avenida, Buenos Aires. 15.7.2011. (JSJ)

Director: Pablo Maritano
Sets: Andrea Mercado
Costumes: Sofía Di Nunzio
Lighting: José Luis Fiorruccio


Ecclitico: Osvaldo Peroni
Bonafede: Hernán Iturralde
Clarice: María Savastano
Flaminia: Jeanette Vecchione
Ernesto: Vanina Guilledo
Lisetta: Rocío Arbizu
Cecco: Sergio Spina

Hernán Iturralde ( Bonafede) and Osvaldo Peroni (Ecclitico). Photo © Liliana Morsia

Haydn’s Il mondo della luna, packed full of humour and wonderful music, presents such a good evening of entertainment that one can only wonder with amazement at its absence from the repertoire for so many of the years since its composition in 1777.

Even since its 20th century revival in 1932 – for the 200th anniversary of Haydn’s birth – it has remained little performed and only two (DVD) recordings appear to be available in the catalogue. Buenos Aires Lírica’s new production is thus to be welcomed – even though not the first in the city, which was in 1971 by the no longer existing Teatro Colón Chamber Opera, but sufficiently distant in time that the work is entirely new for the majority of the audience.

The story revolves around the tricking of the gullible old man Bonafede, that he can travel to the moon, where he can enjoy the delights “seen” through the telescope of the false astrologer (astronomer in modern day terms) Ecclitico. Ecclitico is in love with one of Bonafede’s daughters, Clarice, and Ernesto, a cavalier, with the other daughter Flaminia, and the aim of the plan is to get Bonafede to agree to the marriages of the respective couples, which of course, with the help also of the respective servants – Lisetta of Bonafede and Cecco of Ecclitico – he does in the end.

Director Pablo Maritano’s approach was not to be too literal – the telescope set up is a pipe that feeds out of a window and is viewed through from within an old bath – and like the “plot”, to add to the normal the absurd, with props such as sunglasses, Red Indian headdress and diving helmet, but without going over the top with the humour. This was cleverly supported by Andrea Mercado’s period style sets of rooms in Ecclitico’s and Bonafede’s houses, giving way to a mattress strewn “lunar landscape” and a giant bed into which all the couples climbed at the end (the third being Cecco and Lisetta, the latter who has had to rebuff the advances of Bonafede), and the complementary dress of Sofía Di Nunzio.

Without exception the cast – all of whose parts are major – lived up to this too, and let the humour speak for itself, and without exception all were outstanding. Bass Hernán Iturralde as Bonafede looked the part and his singing was strong and expressive throughout. The two tenors – Osvaldo Peroni as Ecclitico, in a change from the usual dramatic cameo roles he plays, and Sergio Spina as Cecco – sang their parts well, as did the two sopranos – the American Jeanette Vecchione as Flaminia with a “thin” but musical soprano contrasting the richer voice of María Savastano as Clarice. Rocío Arbizu was a coquettish Lisetta and Vanina Guilledo was an initially hesitant but soon confident Ernesto.

The orchestra was led by the Swiss-Chilean Rodolfo Fischer, and apart some minor issues of balance at the start, soon settled to offer a lively and colourful performance.

Jonathan Spencer Jones