Opera Shutdown in Barcelona

February 2, 2012

After having painted here a rosy scenario for the opera houses in Spain two years ago despite a precipitous economic downturn, it is dispiriting to see that the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona is being forced to shut down for two months. Distressing as this is in general, I’m relieved to see that three performances, in May, remain for Xavier Montsalvatge’s “magic opera” El gato con botas, in commemoration of the centenary of the composer’s birth and the tenth anniversary of his death.

The economy is, of course, hitting everybody and everything hard, but considering the difficult times during which the Liceu has managed to stay open in the last century, one hopes a solution can be found for this major company that plays in the second-largest opera house in Europe.

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And, from Barcelona …

October 6, 2010

The principal daily, La Vaguardia devoted a lot of space to the New York production of Puss and Boots.

(Translations of some key passages are below the images.)

“My father would have loved it,” maintains Yvette.

Xavier Montsalvatge, one of the most relevant composers of contemporary music, has managed to make his mark on Broadway eight years after his death.

In the audience the satisfaction that made the sixty minutes go by like a single breath was evident.

All the puppeteers are dressed in black, the image of the darkness into which Spain was plunged at the time when this work was created.

Goren chose this opera — “the music seemed easy, but connoisseurs can see the inticacies” — and offered it to Kaufman. “I fell in love with it,” said the director.

Yvette, more than satisfied with the results, nevertheless maintains that her father never intended the work for children. It was for adults. But she recognizes that the world has changed a lot since then, and “opera and the way it works are changing.”

***

From the interview with the director:

Kaufman: Montsalvatge is telling us something very clear. The only thing we can do against apparent destiny is to use our imagination and intuition and go on.

La Vanguardia: Is it a show for kids?

Kaufman: The truth is that I never thought of this work as an opera for children. It is very beautiful and everybody can see it, adults and children.

Puss and Boots

October 5, 2010

If you want to see a well-made opera performed with a complete dramatic conception fully realized, incorporating theatrical devices that are thoroughly original, appropriate, and entertaining, get yourself to the elegant New Victory Theater this week for the Gotham Chamber Opera‘s production of Xavier Montsalvatge’s El gato con botas. Like Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel, it was conceived for adults but delights children; unlike H&G, it’s only one hour long. I am generally anti-puppet, at least in opera, but these figures — and, more especially, the sensitive use of them — more than won me over. And the music itself is above praise.

Given my great interest in the life and works of Xavier Montsalvatge (already manifested here and here), I have been looking forward to a new production of his first opera El gato con botas (Puss in Boots) from 1947. The innovative production, which I have had encouraging glimpses of, opens on Friday. I strongly recommend it.