Thursday, November 20, 2008

Il Trovatore, a low fat opera

A piano, a trumpet, an accordion, a guitar and percussions.

You would be amazed if you could hear the result of an "orchestra" consisting of the instruments mentioned right above.

You could even stage a full opera with just these 5 instruments.

Yes, a full opera.

Trovatore for example.

No, really, I'm serious. A Trovatore. The whole thing.

Whoever thinks "Crap!" should pay a visit to the athenian bar BIOS, where every Monday and Wednesday take place the performances of Verdi's "Il Trovatore" by an Opera Organisation called "The Beggars Operas".

In a vast industrial space, with chairs all around for the audience, and with just a catwalk as a set, The Beggars Operas are trying to find the true essence of opera, abrogating and denying "the jewellery and the smell of fur coats".
Their moto: What the others serve on a silver platter, we serve it in a plastic cup.

What began as an experiment last year, turnt out to be a huge success: the whole run of performances was sold out and the production received the best of reviews by the critics.

Luckily, their promise to revive the production the following year was kept and a few weeks ago a new run of performances began.

How many times have you heard Trovatore? A thousand or something?
Well, forget everything you knew about it.

What stroke me the most was the excellent transcription of Verdi's score for a rather idiomatic orchestra of 5 instruments, and you know, a guitar and an accordion is not the first thing that comes to mind when you say "Verdi".

However, the sound was rather full and not even for a sec one could think that something was missing.

The stage direction was absolutely genious, creating real characters of flesh and blood, focusing on the aspects that usually make Trovatore incomprehensible, using very few means to achieve it's purpose: a modern approach of a masterpiece, with respect to the text and the music, with respect to the composer, with respect to the audience.

And all this, happening in front of our eyes, at about 1-2 metres from the audience. The voices sounded very loud, the orchestra too and the impact of the immediacy made us freeze in our chair, stunned by what we were watching.

The "theatre":

The catwalk and our Azucena:

Shinny discoballs:

Leonora and Manrico, on the floor:

Azucena and Manrico

Azucena and Di Luna, Ferrando in the background

Di geloso amor sprezzato!

It would be unjust to "judge" the young singers of this Trovatore in terms of a traditional staging. We already know that in order to stage a Trovatore you need the 4 greatest singers in the world. And certainly that was not the case.

But Yannis Christopoulos' Manrico, a rather lyric voice, was beautifuly sung, with exquisite taste (no high C's, I'm sorry, only an interpolated one at "morir" rather than at "all'armi") and with excellent acting skills, Marina Koliva as Leonora was all the passionate but naive teenager (listening to Manrico's romanza @ her I-pod), displaying a voice of solid material but with an unsteady technique, that matched perfectly her acting skills, Ioanna Forti was a haunting, breathtaking, terrifying but human Azucena that made me shiver, even if her vocal resources were less than enough for the gipsy, Manolis Papadakis was the most sportive Di Luna in operatic history (doing push ups while upside down on a wall) and sang a brutal, maschile, fierce Di Luna.


The Act I trio (Di geloso amor sprezzato). Trovatore meets the Fight Club.

When during the intermission, the chorus entered the foyer and started singing "Or co' dadi ma fra poco", calling the audience back to their seats.

The dreamy Act IV duet of Azucena-Manrico and their maypole-like game using spinning chairs on wheels.

More than deserved kudos to composer Kharalampos Goyós, the core of The Beggars Operas, an avid opera lover, a declared enemy of opera necrophiliacs, who did the excellent transcription and conducted the quintet.

ps. The title is inspired by the Manifest of The Beggars Operas where among others they say:
"It would be a pity to leave the masterpieces of the past (so accesible and popular whatsoever!) convicted to be eternally staged exclusively under the glow of jewellery and the smell of old fur coats.

We 're not the first to feel the need for "low-fat opera".

That's why we, ardent, devoted and young lovers, have the honour to offer to our distinguished public The Beggars Operas"


Gonzalo Tello said...

Parsi: Seeing is believing, so upload a video if this thing!! greetings!

Parsifal said...

Hey Gonzalo! Well, I hope sometime I will, eventually ;)

mahler76 said...

ήταν απλά τέλεια.

Anonymous said...

Αμέλησα και όταν έψαξα για εισιτήρια είχαν φύγει όλα δυστυχώς :-( Απ΄ότι φαίνεται έχασα....