Monday, April 22, 2019

Maria de Buenos Aires

                                                                                         Yo soy María de Buenos Aires!
                                                                                         De Buenos Aires María ¿no ven quién soy yo?
                                                                                         María tango, María del arrabal!
                                                                                         María noche, María pasión fatal!
                                                                                         María del amor!  De Buenos Aires soy yo!

Opera Southwest, Albuquerque's local opera company, has committed to producing at least one opera per season with Hispanic roots and cast.  This season's choice was Maria de Buenos Aires, a "tango operita" with music by Argentine composer Ástor Piazzolla and libretto by Horacio Ferrer, an Uruguayan-Argentine poet and tango lyricist.  

Cast included Denise Wernly Alsina as Maria, the country girl who comes to the big city of Buenos Aires, falls into prostitution, dies and is reborn to haunt the streets, bars, and brothels as a shadow . . .

Efrain Solis as El Payador, the singer/poet who alternately protects and neglects Maria . . .

and José M. "Pepe" Gallardo as El Duende, the capricious puppet-master who controls everyone's fate, and theatrical cousin to the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret.

The opera is an allegory -- very reminiscent of a medieval morality play -- that can be interpreted as the history of the tango itself as reinvented by Piazzolla, the composer.  But the plot, libretto, and staging are all decidedly surreal, with tango dance numbers serving as intermezzos.  

Any attempt to recapitulate the story would be futile, so I'll simply share here some images that convey the weird beauty of the opera.

If you would like to see these (and many more) images in a larger setting, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.