Manuel García’s five-opera cycle comes to an end in Madrid with Un avvertimento ai gelosi

SpainSpain Manuel García, Un avvertimento ai gelosi: Members of Centro de Perfeccionamiento del Palau de les Arts / Rubén Fernández de Aguirre (conductor and piano ). Fundación Juan March, Madrid, 17.12.2021. (JMI)

Fundación Juan March’s Un avvertimento ai gelosi © M. Alperi

Director – Bárbara Lluch
Sets – Daniel Bianco
Costumes – Clara Peluffo
Lighting – Nadia García

Sandrina – Rosa María Dávila
Berto – Marcelo Solís
Conte – Jorge Franco
Don Fabio – Carlos Fernández Reynoso
Ernesta – Laura Orueta
Menico – Xavier Hertherington

There is no doubt that Manuel García (1775-1832) was exceptional. He was a major tenor in his day and sang the role of Count Almaviva in the premiere of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia. It should be noted that his children, whom he tutored, were phenomena in their respective professions: his daughters were the famous singers María Malibrán and Pauline Viardot, and his son, Manuel, was a baritone who invented the laryngoscope. Perhaps most noteworthy, he was the composer of five operas, all of them for salon with piano accompaniment.

In recent years, the Fundación Juan March, working with other Spanish theaters, has staged all five operas by Manuel García. And it has now come to an end with Un avvertimento ai gelosi (‘A Warning for the Jealous’) in a co-production with Palau de les Arts Valencia and Oviedo Opera Festival. This is an authentic buffo opera that narrates the adventures of the protagonist, Sandrina, as she teaches her jealous husband, Berto, a lesson. It is not a work of major importance in musical terms, although it does offer opportunities for the main characters to shine.

This production had its premiere in Valencia a few days ago.The staging is rather basic – the Fundación Juan March’s theater does not allow for much more. Catalan Barbara Lluch handled the stage direction, using very simple sets and period costumes. She added a series of silent characters who do not help much in the development of the plot.

The musical direction and piano accompaniment were carried out by Rubén Fernández de Aguirre, who has become a true expert in these Manuel García salon operas. His work was quite good, as is usual with him. He could not be present for the first of the performances here, and it appears that he was misssed.

The singers are all members of the Center for Improvement of the Palau de Les Arts in Valencia, and are young and inexperienced as one would expect. In general, they did their job adequately, although their voices were not outstanding. The two women in the cast, soprano Rosa María Dávila (Sandrina) and mezzo-soprano Laura Orueta (Ernesta), were the most impressive.

José M. Irurzun 

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