Let's just continue where I left you two days ago: It goes without saying that I would never miss a chance to see Riccardo Muti conduct. Muti's home town is Naples and for a few years now he has been working on the resurrection of Neapolitan operas of the 17th and 18th centuries with his Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini. The production of Saverio Mercadante's I due figaro that I saw at the Teatro Colon on Thursday had originated at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival last and had also been presented at the Ravenna Festival and at the Teatro Real in Madrid. It is a charming comedy, a sequel to Mozavrt's Nozze di Figaro. Count and Countness Almaviva have a daughter now who is in love with grown-up Cherubino. Susanna and Figaro play the matchmakers, there is a lot of confusion, an angry Count (what else) and a happy ending, all highly entertaining, beautiful music, extremely difficult to sing and splendidly performed by Muti, his orchestra and a fantastic cast of young, mostly Italian singers, none of them older than 30. I had such a good time that I will go again tonight.
My old friend and Salzburg mentor Evamaria Wieser is here as well. Of course, Evamaria taught me everything about being an artistic administrator and we are a wonderful team in audition, so yesterday we took a taxi to La Plata, about 50km from Buenos Aires, to spend the day with a group of young Argentinian singers at the Teatro Argentino, arguably the most interesting opera company in Argentina. The theatre had selected a very good group of young artists, we heard a few exceptional voices, engaged in interesting discussions and were treated with the utmost hospitality. On my next trip to Argentina I will definitely go to La Plata again.
We spent so much time in La Plata that I barely made it back to yet another evening at the Teatro Colon for a concert of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra. What a privilege to spend three evenings in a row at this wonderful venue for a recital, an opera and a concert of Mahler's 7th Symphony. The acoustics worked splendidly for each of them.
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Thank you, Twitter! I had just started my computer here at the hotel in Buenos Aires when I saw a tweet from Joyce DiDonato announcing her recital at the Teatro Colon yesterday evening. Joyce appeared with the Paris Opera frequently when I was there, but I had never seen her in recital. Luckily, I was able to get a ticket at the last minute. Visiting the Teatro Colon for the first time felt very special, too. Any superlative you might have heard about the acoustics are true, a singer's slightest whisper and softest piano carries through the whole auditorium. I can't wait to go back tonight for Mercadante's I due figaro conducted by Riccardo Muti.
It was a long trip to get here, but flying over the snow-covered peaks of the Andes from Santiago de Chile to Buenos Aires was worth a 14-hour flight. I haven't seen anything of the city yet, but hope to get out for a while before my auditions this afternoon.
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I've just returned from a magnificent performance of Karol Szymanowski's King Roger, the fifth and last of this year's operas in Santa Fe for me. I've known the piece for a long time, seen a few productions and even prepared one for the Paris Opera, but I still can't tell you what it really is about. It's an enigmatically beautiful piece with gorgeous, colourful music and at each encounter I resist classifying it as l'art pour l'art despite its truly artificial orientalisms and a libretto that couldn't be more obscure. But then, when the king and his queen are as wonderfully sung as by Mariusz Kwiecien and Erin Morley tonight, does it really matter what it all means?
After performances of Tosca and Pearl Fishers the true highlight of my time in Santa Fe was the performance of Rossini's Maometto II yesterday evening. A strangely neglected piece, this is a masterfully crafted opera seria with loads of incredible music telling the story of the siege of the Venetian city Negroponte by Maometto's army. Of course, Maometto is in love with Anna, the Venetian commander's daughter, but he has conveniently decided not to tell her his real name. Anna knows him as Oronte. You can imagine the trouble that ensues. David Alden's intelligent production was supported by a wonderful cast led by Luca Pisaroni's Maometto and Leah Crocetto's Anna. Two great artists for whom this production is a true milestone in their careers. Performances like Maometto II are more than a good reason to make the long way to Santa Fe. I'm glad I could be here again this year.
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