Argentina Scarlatti, Il trionfo dell’onore: Soloists and Orchestra / Iñaki Encina Oyón (conductor), Centro Cultural 25 de Mayo, Buenos Aires. 4.5.2018. (JSJ)
Riccardo Albenori – Victoria Gaeta
Leonora Dorini – Evelyn Ramírez
Erminio Alberoni – Flavio Oliver
Doralice Rossetti – Sofía Di Benedetto
Flaminio Castravacca – Pablo Urban
Cornelia Buffacci – Josué Miranda
Rosina Caruccia – Cecilia Pastawski
Captain Rodimarte Bombarda – Mariano Gladic
Direction – Violeta Zamudio
Sets – Carmen Auzmendi
Costumes – Gonzalo Giacchino
Lighting – Mauro Pujía
The Teatro Colón’s chamber opera series has opened with Alessandro Scarlatti’s only comic work (known) from his extensive operatic oeuvre, Il trionfo dell’onore (The Triumph of Honour).
Presented in the relatively recently renovated now named Centro Cultural 25 de Mayo in the western side of the city, the choice was said to mark the 300th anniversary of the work’s first performance in Naples back in 1718. Despite occasional productions during the last century and the revival of interest in the baroque and the constant search for things new, the opera still remains little known – as the only two, now historic, recordings attest.
From the audience perspective a minimalist hand programme did not help, with no information about the opera except some brief comments on its background and the version performed – a re-edition by Manuel de Olaso of the version in the British Museum’s library that was discovered by Edward Dent in 1905 and formed the basis for the 20th century productions.
The storyline is relatively straightforward but is drawn out with multiple sub-plots wherein the comedy lies. In essence, Riccardo, a young rake, had seduced Leonora and then rejected her in favour of Doralice. He and his friend Bombarda then flee from the city but are followed by the women, who hole up with Doralice’s aunt Cornelia. Leonora’s brother Erminio turns up and challenges Riccardo to a duel for dishonouring her and wounded, he declares he will marry her rather than Doralice. She then reunites with Erminio, while for his part Bombarda gets Rosina, who Riccardo’s uncle Flaminio had tried to woo and he is left to pair with Cornelia.
The theatre is small and a basic set was helped along by two ‘extras’ who from time to time were drawn into the action. With modern dress in the first two acts changing to ‘period’ in the last, director Violeta Zamudio successfully developed the individual characters. Nevertheless, some s were lost in translation, such as why Riccardo dons a dildo or Erminio is drenched in a ‘shower’ holding an umbrella he apparently cannot open.
The cast was comprised of young singers and the undoubted stars were the two most experienced – Victoria Gaeta as Riccardo and Cecilia Pastawski as Rosina, both in excellent voice and up to the challenges of the roles. But that is not to discount any of the others, either as singer or actor. Evelyn Ramírez’s dramatic Leonora was a contrast to the pampered Doralice of Sofía Di Benedetto and Josué Miranda in travesti in one of the very few such roles was a convincing Cornelia. Mariano Gladic was a virile Bombarda, countertenor Flavio Oliver a robust Erminio and Pablo Urban the foolish Flaminio.
The 17-strong so-called ‘Ensamble barroco’ was led by Iñaki Encina Oyón and played with energy and style. Notably a number are trained in baroque music, which has been sorely lacking in Buenos Aires, also at the singer level.
No doubt the location didn’t help but it was a pity more people did not make the effort – at least on this review night – to see a work that is unlikely to be repeated in the foreseeable future.
Jonathan Spencer Jones