Since July 3, the Spanish director Emilio Sagi has been working on the staging of L’Elisir d’amore of Gaetano Donizettiwhich will go up on Tuesday, August 2 at the Teatro Colón, under the musical direction of Evelino Pidò and a great international and local cast, led by Javier Camarena and Nadine Sierra.
“I really like to think that Thirty years ago I made my debut at the Teatro Colón. I started in 1980, and I’ve been in my career forty-two. Last year they paid me many tributes in Spain. The government and the king gave me the gold medal for Fine Arts. It was very exciting for me,” says the director.
In his dressing room, Sagi remembers his other productions in Buenos Aires. In addition to his exciting debut at the Colón with the short lifeby Manuel de Falla in 1992, made Dona Francisquita, Figaro, Carmen Y don giovanni. And also a cabaret, the story of the singer Celia Gamezwhich he performed with Lino Patalano at the Maipo.
Emilio Sagi presents a staging of L’elisir d’amore with rockabilly included.
word and music
Since that debut at the Teatro Colón, many things have changed in opera: “Today it is conceived, as the musicologist Paul Henry Lang says, as drama in music or comedy in music. So, the musical part is as important as the theatrical partSagi opines.
And he adds: ‘It’s not about rekindling the old fight’prima le parole or prima la musica‘. They are both. In all the theaters of the world that encounter between theatricality and musicality prevails. Today there is no singer who does not want to act, rather they expect a message from the stage director about the character and his dramaturgy. No theater would pose a vision of the lyric as a concert”.
-Do you recognize a stamp of identity in your work that is maintained over the years?
-It is very difficult. Everybody says it but I don’t know what my identity stamp is. When I come across a work I try to approach it as best I can. Today, after so many years in the profession, I am a bit eclectic. One a little tradition with modernity.
In general, in comedy, a genre that I do a lot, they tend to see a very particular sense of humor, a search for color, fine humor, spectacularity. But I don’t know how to explain that, it’s what I get.
-He is not dedicated to analyzing his own production…
In the theater. Emilio Sagi, in rehearsals for L’elisir dámore. Photo Guillermo Rodriguez Adami
No. And besides, I think it depends on the work I have ahead of me. Compare, for example, this L’Elisir d’amore with my Pirateby Bellini, which I did at the Teatro Real and at La Scala, have nothing to do with it. If you see the two works, you can tell that they do not seem to be from the same director. One is almost gothic and the other is a fresh comedy of entanglements.
What aspect of the work interests you the most?
-When I do a work I try to go to literary criticism, it will be because I studied Philosophy and Letters. One of the things that most impressed me is that in all musicological criticism they say that L’Elisir d’amore it is an opera buffa, but romantic. That is to say, they suggest that this romanticism is completely present, the search to tell a love story of Alina and Nemorino.
I liked that a lot, so I tried to make that story very fresh. Then, I think that in all Spanish poetry, zarzuela -including classical Spanish theater-, the woman cannot show her feelings, because her personality is not considered. This is the case of Alina and Nemorino.
-How do you conceive the character of Nemorino?
-For me he is not the idiot of the town. A lot of times he comes out with those awkward pouts and I don’t want that. I want her to be a shy character, who doesn’t know how to approach that woman with a kind of very big pretentiousness. Point and end.
A close and rockabilly setting
-And where is the work set?
-A very fresh environment, close to today’s young people. I raised it in the ’50s, ’60s, at a college or university, where they play basketball, dance rockabilly, ride bikes and drive cars. A little close to the musical world. We did something very nice and young people will feel very close. It has nothing to do with the solemn opera.
Emilio Sagi considers that Lélisir d¿amore is a delightful work. Photo Guillermo Rodriguez Adami
-What elements do you think the work has to keep it so popular?
I think the music is really delicious. Everybody knows her, not just the aria A furtive tear, which is happy although many people say it is sad. It’s joyful! Finally that man sees that she has a certain interest in him. It is a very nostalgic but very happy aria, Nemorino’s personality has to be in full joy at that moment.
the barcarola You hear it once and it sticks in your head. On the other hand, I think that romantic and fresh love story can be at any time.
-Did you update Alina’s perspective at any point?
-It is an important female role with a lot of character. Alina wants that shy man to have more guts to approach her. Because of her education and way of being, the only thing she decides is to make him jealous with an idiot, who is the Belcore soldier. Alina is not happy with this relationship that she is raising with that imbecile, she sees that the wedding date is approaching, and Nemorino still hasn’t reacted. He doesn `t know what to do.
In the end, when Nemorino makes the contract to be a soldier, she can’t bring herself to tell him that she likes him. And then she grabs the paper from him. It’s a super dramatic Donizetti, she becomes a kind of Anna Magnani, as if to say, “But silly! Don’t you realize that I did all of this for you?” I really like to point that out.
Javier Camarena is the male lead in Lélisir d’amore. Photo Arnaldo Colombaroli/Colón Theater
-The female roles in belcanto are tremendous.
-Yes, in dramatic belcanto they are characters used by everyone. Lucy of Lammermoor, for example, is used by her brother, her boyfriend, the priest. Is awesome. The belcanto gives to highlight today the role of currency that women had throughout history.
-The introduction of pathetic features within the comic, as in L’elisir d’amore, has to do with a certain underestimation of the depth of the comedy?
–There are comic works that have great depth. The Quijote it is a wonderful novel that is not very dramatic, then it has terrible consequences. But it is a work that has gently raised some very strong problems, from politics, social customs, everything. Comedy is very important, it amuses you, but then it can give you a lot to think about.
-Do you prefer to underline or attenuate the comic elements in the dramaturgy?
-I like to remove that world of pushes and coarse salt. I think the other way around we have to look for something more refined, because we are on a stage that is seen by 1700 people. We are not in a gathering in which we can even make a dirty joke. You have to look for refinement, I insist a lot on this. Yes, introduce the comic blows that life often has.
-Did you do something in particular with the choir?
-I really like working with the choir and I get along very well with them. There is an important complicity. I always try to make them real characters, especially in L’elisir… It’s a very good choir, with very good singers, and besides, they’re phenomenal theatrically.
Nadine Sierra, the lead singer of L’elisir d’amore. Photo Arnaldo Colombaroli/Colón Theater
The dream leading couple
-And Nadine Sierra and Javier Camarena as protagonists is a dream couple for this work.
They are two angelic beings. I worked a lot with Javier, also with Ambrogio and Alfredo Daza, but I didn’t know Nadine. I’m fascinated. She understands everything at the minute, what you give her increases like a balloon, she is super creative. And she is a good person.
I love working with people who are good people. Many times our work can go from being wonderful to being appalling, because you meet some perverse people. But here it is not the case. Quite the contrary.
L’ elysir d’amore It will be seen starting this Tuesday, August 2 at the Teatro Colón. The rest of the functions are August 3, 4, 6, 9 and 10 at 8 p.m. And there will be a function on August 7, at 5 p.m.
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Reference from clarin www.clarin.com