Argentina Beethoven, Fidelio: Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra. Conductor: Francisco Rettig, Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. 20.5.2016. (JSJ)
Director/sets/costumes: Eugenio Zanetti
Lighting: Eli Sirlin
Chorus: Miguel Martínez
Leonore (Fidelio): Carla Filipcic Holm / Sabrina Cirera
Florestán: Zoran Todorovich / Enrique Folger
Don Pizarro: Homero Pérez Miranda / Leonardo Estevez
Rocco: Manfred Hemm / Carlos Esquivel
Don Fernando: Hernán Iturralde / Alejandro Meerapfel
Marzelline: Jaquelina Livieri / Carla Paz Andrade
Jaquino: Santiago Burgi / Sergio Spina
1st prisoner: Sebastián Angulegui / Leonardo Fontana
2nd prisoner: Juan Gonzalez Cueto / Fermin Prieto
Beethoven’s Fidelio, his only opera, seems to polarise opinions if one scans the reviews of a random selection of productions. Similarly, in this new production Teatro Colón production by the Argentine Eugenio Zanetti, who has spent the majority of his career in Hollywood, opinión has been divided.
Zanetti’s approach, according to an interview in the hand programme, is encompassed in the vision of “reality being a mere illusion” and by extension Leonore’s quest for the liberty of her husband being a quest for internal liberty. To try and discern that out of the underlying story as presented is another matter, however, although there was no lack of fantasy …
Presumably it is the Hollywood influence but Zanetti combines the old with modern, with buildings with ancient columns but Don Pizarro master of a WWI military vehicle and Florestan’s cell – incidentally, and incorrectly, overlooked by other prisoners – a round high-tech looking pit with above, initially, a brightly lit fishbowl-like cylindrical appearance. Were we in the 18th century, as Leonora’s wig – which Florestan removed at the end – suggested, or the 21st, or somewhere in between?
Fortunately, the music under Chilean Francisco Rettig carried the production along, including a notable third Leonore overture to open the second act – accompanied with a lengthy walk by Rocco and Leonora to the entrance to Florestan’s jail and the comings and goings of sundry other individuals.
Elisabete Matos had been named initially as Leonore but at some point she had been replaced with Nadja Michael, who in turn withdrew for “personal reasons” early in the rehearsals. The role then went to Carla Filipcic Holm who had been named for the second cast. Deservedly, and despite an uneven start and without the same degree of shading between the two characters, Fidelio and Leonore, of her 2010 Buenos Aires Lírica performance, she filled the role with distinction. Serbian tenor Zoran Todorovich likewise, in his brightly lit ‘cylinder’, didn’t give of his best initially but brought vigour and colour to the role of Florestan.
Manfred Hemm was notable as Rocco the gaoler, as was Jaquelina Livieri as his daughter Marzelline. However, Homero Pérez Miranda, a regular player of the ‘darker’ roles, failed to give the necessary evilness to Don Pizarro. Santiago Burgi was a lively Jaquino and Hernán Iturralde a correct Don Fernando.
The chorus were also outstanding, with excellent quality of sound.
In conclusion – a memorable production, but for not all the right reasons.
Jonathan Spencer Jones