Italian songs partner Cavelleria rusticana to open Juventus Lyrica’s season

ArgentinaArgentina Festival della Canzonetta Italiana and Mascagni, Cavalleria rusticana (arr. Antonio Russo): Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of Juventus Lyrica / André dos Santos (conductor). Teatro Avenida, Buenos Aires, 2.6.2023. (JSJ)

Marcelo Gomez (Turiddu) in Juventus Lyrica’s Cavalleria rusticana © Liliana Morsia

Director and Costumes – Ana D’Anna
Sets – Gonzalo Córdova
Chorus – Federico Chlopecki

Turiddu – Marcelo Gomez
Santuzza – Marianela Finocchiaro
Alfio – Juan Salvador Trupia
Lola – Rocio Arbizu
Mamma Lucia – Roxana Deviggiano

After a limited season in 2022 as musical life in Buenos Aires started recovering following the government directed shutdowns of the previous two years, Juventus Lyrica is back with what promises to be a full season.

And kicking it off was Mascagni’s one act Cavalleria rusticana unusually coupled with a Festival della Canzonetta Italiana’ – a festival of Italian songs, which had been conceived by the company’s director Ana D’Anna and then musical director (the now late) Antonio Russo for the 2020 season, which obviously never took place.

Comprised of eleven traditional songs from composers including De Curtis, De Meglio, Denza, Gastaldon, Leoncavallo, Rossini and Tosti, they are presented in a continuous cycle, interconnected with lines from Italian poets such as Alighieri and Quasimodo – the whole orchestrated by Russo and lasting about 50 minutes.

For Russo, who was born in Sicily, it must have been a labour of love but which, with his death in May 2001, he was denied to present.

Songs such as these are rarely heard in a live setting here and with some better known than others, made for an interesting experience with their presentation by various of the Juventus Lyrica singers.

While all were presented to a high level, particularly notable was De Meglio’s ‘Alla fiera di Mast’Andrea’ quartet by Victoria Ratto, Natalia Beresky, Sol Risé and Camila Piccolo, which was the opening song, Rossini’s ‘La Danza’ with the full ensemble and the popular and probably best known to most ‘Funiculì, Funiculà’ by Denza led by Marcelo Gomez as the closing number.

With the ensemble in costume and the simple scene already set, Cavalleria rusticana followed in the second half with colours reflective of a small rural community and the unfolding tragedy and brightened primarily by the bright red of Lola’s dress.

With the storyline somewhat limited – based on the admitted but never explicitly seen infidelities of Turiddu with Lola and the jealousies of their respective spouses, much rests on the soloists to drive the action.

Here (in the first of two casts) Rocio Arbizu was a playful and tantalising Lola and Marcelo Gomez a strong Turiddu. As their respective partners Marianela Finocchiaro, a new soloist with the company, was a powerful and convincing Santuzza and Juan Salvador Trupia a striking Alfio.

And shuffling around, Mamma Lucia, the mother of Turiddu, was well played by Roxana Deviggiano.

André dos Santos led the orchestra with good momentum and balance and the chorus with a new mix of faces sung with their usual enthusiasm to provide a positive start to the 2023 season.

Jonathan Spencer Jones

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