Utopia Unlimited in Buenos Aires

ArgentinaArgentina Gilbert & Sullivan, Utopia, Limited: Soloists,Chorus and Orchestra of Lírica Lado B. Conductor: Camilo Santostefano, Manzana de las Luces, Buenos Aires. 29.9.2012. (JSJ)

Director: Diego Rodríguez


Actress: Camila Dougall
Bayley Barre / Tarara: Manolo Hurtado
Blushington: Juan Pablo Paccazochi
Captain Fitzbattleaxe: Nicolás Ignacio Sánchez / Pablo Urban
Captain Corcoran: Ignacio Agudo / Martín Sotelo
Goldbury: Gabriel Carasso / Norberto Lara
Princess Kalyba: Jéssica Abraham / Lucía Alonso
King Paramount: Alejandro Spies
Lady Sophie: Natalia Albero / Tamara Odón
Lord Dramaleigh: Patricio Remotti
Princess Nekaya: Florencia Gallo / María Carranza
Phantis: Alejandro Martínez / Juan Manuel Vizán
Phylla: Maia Wierzbinski / Dolores Leguizamón / Julia Frosi
Scaphio: Juan Francisco Ramírez/ Pablo Urban
Princess Zara: Lelia Couselo / Selene Lara

Alejandro Spies (King Paramount) and Tamara Odón (Lady Sophie) in Utopia Limited. (Photo Lírica Lado B)

Lírica Lado B is a fairly recent newcomer on the opera scene in Buenos Aires. Established by an enthusiastic group of young singers and actors, its first presentation was in 2009 and it has specialised in little performed works by composers such as Martin y Soler, Haydn and Telemann.

The company’s latest production is rare, even by British standards, In fact, Utopia, Limited, the second last work of the Gilbert and Sullivan collaboration, has never been that popular. Not least it has a large cast and is long and slow moving, and lacks the immediate appeal of the more popular works. Given the infrequency with which G&S are performed in Buenos Aires, it is a curious, but nevertheless welcome addition to the local repertoire.

As a small company Lírica Lado B lack the resources for much in the way of staging but the venue they use, the historic Manzana de las Luces, has such a small stage that there is little room for props. However, outlandish dress and make up – with different coloured painted faces – was used to good effect to distinguish the different groups of characters, although other aspects such as a crown of paper toilet rolls for Paramount worked less well.

One of the major challenges for the cast was got round with the use of a single actor, Camila Dougall, for the spoken parts, requiring them only to learn the sung items. Despite her talent in representing the different roles, however, her delivery was frequently too rapid and the identities of the spoken characters had little in common with the sung ones.

Among the singers Alejandro Spies as Paramount – who had injured a leg and insisted on performing from a wheelchair – and Tamara Odón as Lady Sophie stood out, while the 21-strong orchestra under Camilo Santostefano kept the pace in music that is at once familiar.

Lírica Lado B’s members may be young but what they lack in experience is more than made up with verve and enthusiasm!

Jonathan Spencer Jones

Caption: Alejandro Spies (King Paramount) and Tamara Odón (Lady Sophie) in Utopia Limited. (Photo Lírica Lado B)