Impresario & Diva: Rare Mozart and Haydn in Bilbao

SpainSpain Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Der Schaupieldirektor & Franz Josef Haydn, La Canterina: Soloists, Bizkaia Symphony Orchestra, Pablo Mielgo (Conductor), Teatro Arriaga, Bilbao, 3.2.2012 (JMI)

Production: Opera de Lausanne, Auditorio Tenerife and Sassari’s Ente Concerti

Director: Marco Carniti
Sets: Emmanuelle Favre
Costumes: Maria Filippi
Lighting: Fabio Rossi


Der Schauspieldirektor
Mme. Hertz: Silvia Vázquez
Mme. Silberklang: Itziar de Unda.
Mme. Pfeil: Annalisa Stroppa
Mr.Vogelsang: Alexandre Guerrero

La Canterina
Gasparina: Silvia Vázquez.
Don Pelagio: Alexandre Guerrero
Apollonia: Annalisa Stroppa
Don Ettore: Anaïs Masllorens

Photo courtesy Teatro Arriaga Bilbao © E. Moreno Esquibel

Bilbao’s Teatro Arriaga started the year with a double bill, joining two minor buffo operas by  Mozart and Haydn. Neither Der Schauspieldirektor nor La Canterina are operas that have enjoyed the favor of the public. This was not so much the resurrection of unjustly neglected operas, then, but rather the opportunity to experience two rarities on stage, for the first time for most of the audience.

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W.A.Mozart, Der Schauspieldirektor,
N.Marriner / DSO / Nadelmann, Sala, Odinus et al.

The link among the operas in this production is to offer La Canterina (“The Songstress” or “The Diva”) with the artists that have given such a headache to the Schauspieldirektor in the first half of the program.

Marco Carniti offers a simple staging which takes place in the back stage of a theater in the Singspiel by Mozart, consisting mainly of props. The opera was performed with the dialogues in Spanish and the text updated to refer to current situations in opera houses. In La Canterina the sets consist mainly again of props, particularly a few mirrors and some droll costumes. The actors are well directed in both cases. In sum: a simple, effective production.

The musical version offered by Pablo Mielgo consists of the few fragments remaining in Der Schauspieldirektor, i.e. the overture, the arias of the two divas and the trio with the tenor. He added some pages from other Mozart operas, with Mme. Pfeil getting to sing an aria from Bastien und Bastienne, and Mr. Vogelsang, singing Don Ottavio’s aria “Dalla sua Pace”. The conducting was heavy handed and routine, but improved dramatically for the Haydn. There was much more life and energy coming from the pit. The orchestra was quite poor with Mozart, and also improved for La Canterina.

Itziar de Unda as Mme. Silberklang and mezzosoprano Annalisa Stroppa, who offered the best voice of the evening, stood out in this cast. The latter was excellent as Apollonia (Haydn) and Mme. Pfeil (Mozart). Silvia Vázquez was a disappointing Mme. Hertz, none-too pleasant at the top of the rage, but improving as Gasparina. Tenor Alexandre Guerrero was unable to cope with the difficulties of Mr. Vogelsang’s “Dalla sua Pace” and as Don Pelagio he showed little more than a very small voice.

Jose Mª Irurzun