Florida Grand Opera, Tango, Unexpected Operas in Unexpected Places, María de Buenos Aires
Florida Grand Opera (FGO) has announced a new three-year program entitled "Unexpected Operas in Unexpected Places," designed to bring less-known works to unique venues throughout South Florida in an effort to expose new audiences to opera, with the support of a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of its Knights Arts Challenge. The first installment of this new initiative will bring operatic productions to the Midtown neighborhood for the first time with a tango double-bill featuring Robert Xavier Rodriguez's Tango and Ástor Piazzolla's María de Buenos Aires, held at the popular Midtown music venue The Stage on March 21-24, 2013.
"Sometimes it's about taking opera out of the opera house to revitalize the art form for new audiences, bringing them something they consider traditional in a completely unexpected way," said Susan Danis, FGO's General Director and CEO.
"Today's audiences demand to be engaged. The opera's new format is embracing that challenge by taking artists out of the formal performance hall and into people's everyday lives and, we hope, reminding them how important and fun the classics are," said Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation.
With Unexpected Operas in Unexpected Places, FGO has created an opportunity to tap into Miami's ever-growing community of young art lovers while also breaking down common stereotypes about the art form being boring, stuffy, or drawn-out. Proving that this production is anything but, the show uses the local bar scene and a standing-room format to put audience members in the middle of the action as the brief, yet sultry tales of lust, romance, and tango unravel around them.
"The double bill is not only dark and provocative, but the music calls for an unconventional setting that mimics the bars and nightclubs of Buenos Aires, where the story takes place and tango itself was born," said Maestro Ramon Tebar, FGO Music Director and the production's conductor. "No other city brings nightlife and culture together like Miami. It was a perfect fit!"
This daring production is brought to life onstage by the exciting young voices of FGO's Young Artist Studio, with guest artists, Maestro Tebar at the podium and under the scenic direction of José Maria Condemi.
A two-time winner of FGO's Henry C. Clark Award and recently appointed Artistic Director of the Palm Beach Symphony, Tebar has been said to "... achieve perfect pitch and harmony from all parts of the orchestra and, with involved and passionate action, direct the tempo with perfection to motivate the entire orchestra, making poetry ...," according to a review by the Dominican newspaper Hoy Digital [translated from Spanish]. Condemi, who has directed a multitude of operas in varied repertoire throughout the country and abroad, is described by the Wall Street Journal as "ingenious ... a young Argentine-born director who makes no mistakes."
A product of the highly-acclaimed, living American composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez, Tango is a one-act comic concert operetta composed for a chamber ensemble and a single tenor, sung by Matthew Newlin, an FGO Young Artist who Opera News describes as a "sweet-toned" voice. Designed to present three consecutive scenes without pause, the action follows the protagonist at the height of the tango craze in 1913 as he embodies different characters to convey the varied perceptions of this seductive and polarizing dance.
"The amazing thing about the opera is that every word of the libretto is true. You couldn't make up stuff like this because no one would believe it," says Rodriguez. "It's an over-the-top crazy piece ... [and] I understand that the Miami production will be the most elaborate to date, so I can't wait to hear it."
The score takes root in the cabaret ensemble with the use of a bandoneón, a characteristic instrument of the Argentinean tango style, and a small orchestra resembling a tango band. The music tips its hat to the tango tradition by quoting popular classics - such as Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1, Schubert's E-flat Major Piano Trio, and Brahms' Fourth Symphony - in a tango style. It also explores three contrasting variations of the tango dance style by quoting a sensual minuet from Mozart's Don Giovanni.
The work was commissioned by Voices of Change, a premiere American chamber music ensemble dedicated to performing small ensemble works by modern composers. It was premiered in 1986 and hailed as "a light-hearted piece by a very serious composer, as such, may well prove to be one of the treasures of our time," by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
This work will be sung in English, using the composer's own translation of the libretto.
MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES
The surreal plot of María de Buenos Aires is filled with elements of magical realism, a Latin American movement that thins the veil between fantasy and reality. This is the tale of ill-fated María, who was said to be born "on a day when God was drunk." Living in the poor suburbs of Buenos Aires, María is seduced by the sounds of tango, becoming a streetwalker, and falling victim to a tragic death. The audience then follows María's Shadow as it walks the city's Underground, which has become her hell.