The opera season starts with great expectations. If last year the main venues in the world dedicated to the genre were silent except for the Spanish, this new year the music will play again throughout Europe. The Scala of Milan and the Paris Opera They resumed activity shortly before summer and this very night the historic will reopen to the public for the first time after the pandemic. Covent Garden London, which returns with the premiere of a new production of Rigoletto, also gave, starring the Spanish baritone Carlos Álvarez and the soprano Lisette Oropesa.
The Liceo opens the season with an ‘Ariadne aux Naxos’ in a pop key
In Spain, the start of the seasons of the Teatro Real in Madrid and the Liceu in Barcelona will coincide almost in time. The Liceu begins on September 22 with Ariadne on Naxos, by Strauss, with Josep Pons at the helm and staging by Katie Mitchell. The next day, Real will premiere Cinderella, by Rossini, with musical direction by Riccardo Frizza and scene by Stefan Herheim. The Palau de les Arts de Valencia will open the course on September 30 with the Requiem by Mozart under the baton of James Gaffigan and staged by Romeo Castellucci. And the Maestranza in Seville, on October 3 with Madama Butterfly, by Puccini, with musical direction by Alain Guingal and scene by Joan Anton Rechi.
Optimism reigns in the world of opera, although the pandemic still imposes many limitations. Many professionals participate in this type of production (between 150 and 300) and very strict preventive measures are necessary to avoid contagion. In this sense, the Spanish coliseums have a year ahead and face the new season with greased protocols. In reality, what weighs more are the capacity restrictions: “For an institution like the Royal Theater, where 50% of the budget comes at the box office, these limitations are a great damage. We are opening the season with 66%, but we are hopeful that in the next premiere we will be able to sell 100% ”, Gregorio Marañón and Bertrán de Lis, president of the Real Board of Trustees, acknowledged this morning during the presentation to the press of Cinderella.
Rossini’s popular work, an emblematic title of the bufo genre, is the first to be played in what will be the 100th season since the Teatro Real was inaugurated and the 25th since its reopening. Round numbers that the coliseum will celebrate with a total of 276 performances from 16 productions. Joan Matabosch, artistic director of the colosseum, has underlined the festive, humorous and delirious character of the montage chosen to inaugurate the new course, a co-production by the Den Norske Opera in Oslo and the Opéra National de Lyon presented in both theaters in 2017. “Rossini and the librettist, Jacopo Ferretti, took Cinderella and they took away the fairies. From there, Herheim’s staging explains the story as a burlesque tale, brimming with parodic humor, frenetic and exhilarating, freed from the plausible and far from the orthodoxy of conventional storytelling. Makes fun of it kitsch at the same time that he assumes it within the language of the show, in which tributes to the comic, the musical, the Walt Disney cinema and the circus aesthetics can also be distinguished ”.
There is also an important metatheatrical game in Herheim’s proposal. The Cinderella in the story is here a theater cleaner whom Rossini, turned into one more character, decides to turn into the protagonist of the story. Something that is not at all out of step with the musical composition, according to the maestro Frizza: “Rossini did not compose his score based on the argument, but rather let himself be carried away by the music. That is why the story is not told in a linear way, but in a very free way. This is what this staging also plays ”.
A double cast will give life to the characters of Cinderella, led by mezzo-sopranos Karine Deshayes and Aigul Akhmetshina. El Real will offer 15 performances from September 23 to October 9, with a preview on September 20 for young audiences. All the performances will be dedicated to Teresa Berganza, who left her mark on the main character and made him shine on multiple occasions.