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Friday, July 1, 2022

Justin Brown and Ruben Zuchmacher Anticipate “El Consul,” Premiering This Thursday at the Teatro Colón

,consul It’s a very popular play, a great attempt to please the masses, and it seems perfect to me. It is in English, a language that for many people is closer to Italian, German or French in terms of singing”, says Ruben Zuchmacher. consulJoe takes to the stage on Thursday, May 5 at the Teatro Colón, with music director Justin Brown.

“It’s very close to the musical Menotti actually did on Broadway for seven or eight months. I think it’s the ideal opera for people who don’t like opera,” he says.

The opera by Gian Carlo Menotti (1911–2007), with a libretto by the same composer, recounts the desperate attempt of a politically persecuted man and his family to escape the totalitarian regime in which they find themselves, and Face your apathetic bureaucracy. The consul, the embodiment of a Kafkaesque bureaucracy, never appears.

Justin Brown and Ruben Zuchmacher.  Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez.

Justin Brown and Ruben Zuchmacher. Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez.

Scheduled for the 2020 season, the pandemic forced the shutdown of work 15 days before the start of rehearsals. “I grabbed the sheet music and put it away. It was all very precarious, it just wasn’t a postponement,” Zuchmacher says.

And he says: “Almost involuntarily, the work achieved a close resemblance to reality, amid COVID and Ukraine’s war with Russia. Two years ago, it was just another opera; Now it doesn’t sound like just another opera to me. It acquired an unexpected reality”.

“It’s the only opera—he assures—where someone says the word immunization (vaccination), in reference to the long list of requirements the consulate secretary tells applicants. They’re going to believe it was a joke. Which we made up, but it’s on sheet music.”

– Did anything change in this waiting time?

– We did not change anything in terms of sightseeing. It follows the same musical director, Justin Brown, and, except for two singers – who are with the theater with legal issues – continues to have the same cast.

Was the title proposed by the theater or was it your idea?

I think it was a proposal by Augusto Tecera.

“For me he is a rare writer”

-What did you know about Menotti’s music before taking on this job?

,medium, in the eighties, a work performed by an independent nucleus in the El Vitral Theatre, in Spanish and with piano. I really liked it and since then, I started listening to Menotti’s works with some hesitation.


Because he is a rare writer for me. Now I’m more familiar with it, and I love it. But I keep thinking that she is a puccini who came to the cast later. In his symphonic works he is much more dynamic, more contemporary than in his musical theatre.

-Menotti defined “el consul” as “melodrama” or “drama with music” rather than opera. What is your opinion?

-when he wrote consul wanted to do a popular play, that would enter the musical comedy system, and that could totally resemble a play the Miserables, In that sense, it went ahead because there wasn’t this kind of musical comedy at the time, it was all music.

It may be an operetta in its entirety, there are many parts that contain recitations that can be easily spoken. They could do without the linear melody and it would work just like that. candidby Leonard Bernstein. In fact, this is not a work that has great airy subjects. It has a beautiful quintet, a trio of the first act. It has very beautiful moments from the musical point of view.

-Did you see Menotti’s version of the play at the Teatro Colón in 1999?

– I didn’t see him. I don’t remember why

Have you checked what he did?

-yes of course. I saw Basalda’s sketches, I talked to the people who worked on that construction.

French, English and Italian

– Where did you set the play?

– There’s a mess. The work begins with a song in French, the characters speak in English, the idea of ​​nationalities appears but at the turn of the century—with names: Nica Magadoff, Anna Gomez—and Menotti enjoys an Italian cast, which Almost sings a quote from Suar Angelica by Puccini.

It’s a really funny scene as they’re singing in English and, suddenly, the Italian jumps in, thanks to the intervention of a magician’s hypnotic to one of the characters. What the author does is very interesting.

-And where did Menotti put it?

To me it is a work written towards the end of the Cold War. They say that Menotti read in the newspaper the story of a Polish woman who, wanting to leave, did not receive a visa to enter the United States, and committed suicide. But it’s still a work from the ’50s, this is McCarthy in ’48, in the middle of the Cold War. It is considered to be the Iron Curtain country.

Of course, the specter of time probably caught it, but today it is a historical fact that is diluted, isn’t it?

Yes, except those of us who are very old and remember us. I don’t think there is any point in going there.

“Dance is part of the music”

There are two dance numbers in the play. Do they fit well in the narrative? did you leave them?

– Yes, I left them. But no, the dance thing is not disruptive. The music is fee, and I think it has to do with the whole treatment of the work. What I tried was to take the work as a soundtrack: that the music be like accompaniment to things happening on the scene, rather than just follow the rhythm of what happens in the music. This allows for a certain lightness in the scene, to take off the weight of the melodrama.

I make the first nightmare scene lighter, removing the gesture, the melodramatic tension. Where possible, of course, because there are scenes where drama prevails and cannot be taken lightly.

– I think that as a graduate of the Institut Superior d’Arte del Teatro, and with his time in music, it should not be difficult for him to make concessions to the music director.

-Yes. That experience allows me to understand that there are times when there is a “scene” that music is heard. You have to stop everything and pass it. It is not that nothing happens, music happens.

working with justin brown

British director Justin Brown with "El Consul" director Ruben Zuchmacher as he takes to the stage at the Teatro Colón on May 5.  Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez.

British director Justin Brown with “El Consul” director Ruben Zuchmacher as he takes to the stage at the Teatro Colón on May 5. Photo: Emmanuel Fernandez.

For Justin Brown, British director who studied at Tanglewood with Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein consul It is very close to Italian tradition.

,consul This is a Verista opera. I think Menotti wanted the music to come on immediately so that people could understand it. He wrote not for critics, nor for intellectuals, but for the masses, like Puccini or Verdi. I wanted to recreate the idea that opera is for the people. The work was not written for the Metropolitan Opera, but for Broadway. And that doesn’t mean it’s a musical. It’s not,” he says.

Maybe it connects the two worlds? Or, at least, try to bring them closer.

JB: Bernstein, who was writing at the same time, really wanted to write music, making a turn towards that genre: over the cityhis first music, then candidwho is an operetta. story of the west (1957), which is not classical at all. All this has nothing to do with what Menotti did: he does not use jazz or the music of the youth of the time. It uses some elements of classical music and perhaps film music, which for example was written by composers such as Erich Korngold.

– How would you describe Menotti’s musical language?

JB: Sometimes Menotti’s music sounds like a soundtrack. But only occasionally. He was Italian, later a naturalized American, heavily influenced by Puccini. There are many beautiful tunes. To me they sound a lot like Turandot, The Triptych (il tabro, suor angelica You Gianni Shichio,

biggest challenge

What was the biggest challenge the job presented to you?

JB: I think the big challenge musically is to achieve something visceral, urgency, with a great orchestra. With great arias, no problem. Menotti wrote for a small orchestra—the work was written for a Broadway-type theatre, where it stayed for several months—and there you go, to the nerve of the thing, to the fiber.

Rupees: Keep up the drama. The work has an intended Verista treatment. It’s full of acts and actions, you have to build them, and it’s complicated. There is no problem in the theater as one sets the time to act, but the music marks the time, sometimes you come and other you leave. The baton is like a taxi flag: time starts running and you have to fit as many actions into just eight bars.

JB: The work is shot with anxiety or panic with a constant sense of danger. There is no such sense of danger in the Opera House. We play Verdi, Puccini or Wagner, and it’s all great. You consul It doesn’t go that way. There are beautiful tunes, but we have to create that atmosphere of danger for three hours. Then you calm down and relax.

The subject of the work is a constant uncertainty, doesn’t it?

JB: Yes, and Reuben is a great director for this job because he knows how to handle it, how and when to de-stress. He comes from the theatrical tradition. As you say in your book, the public should be captured by mise-en-scene,

When we perform an opera in such a beautiful theatre, we do not see the people, we are in the pit making beautiful voices, but there is no connection with the audience. It is quite difficult to get off the stage because it is so big. But I like challenges and I am happy. We want, and need, to create an environment of danger that seems real to the public, such is the world today.

work together

-Was the communication between you easy?

rb: Yes, it was easy. I really liked Justin from the very beginning, when he told me: “It’s just an opera”. As if to say, “This isn’t a war, it’s an opera.” When he asks me anything related to music, I don’t fight like that because I totally understand that kind of problem. I am not a cynical director.

JB: Of course we were in touch before we arrived. Reuben understood very clearly that the public has to be a part of the theatre, he also understands music very well. I’ve only made a few small comments about the timing of certain things: waiting for a response, creating more tension, and not responding immediately to a question one character asks another.

Menotti refers to the importance of silence in action.

Rupees: Yes, and Justin is very accurate about this. On some occasions I went away for a few moments because I had a lot of work and little time, and they told me that I would have to wait a bit or take some action in some places. It was great that he adjusted things like that.

JB: Yes, silence is important both musically and theatrically. In the second act, when Magda’s child dies, it’s a very sad moment and then the character has to be silent for a really long time.

data sheet

consulA three-act opera by Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti, to a libretto by the same composer, premiered in 1950.

With musical direction by Justin Brown, lead by the stable orchestra, and stage direction by Zuchmacher, he will go on stage on Tuesday, May 3 at 8:00 p.m., and the rest of the performances will take place on Thursdays 5 and Tuesday 10. at twenty; and Sunday at 8.17.

The cast includes Leonardo Nieva (John Sorrell), Carla Filippic Holm (Magda Sorel), Adriana Mastrangelo (consulate secretary), Virginia Correa Dupuy (John’s mother), Hector Guedes (secret agent), Pablo Urban (Nica Magadoff). . ), Alejandro Spice (Mr. Köfner), Marisu Pavone (Foreign Woman), Marina Silva (Anna Gomez), Rocio Arbizu (Vera Boronel), Sebastian Soraren (Asana) Set and Costume Design: Jorge Ferrari. Lighting design: Gonzalo Cordova.


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Reference from clarin www.clarin.com

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