Teatro Mayor presents “Colombian Opera” by Donizetti
One of the most beloved operas of all time, Gaetano Donizetti’s “L’Elisir D’Amore” (“The Elixir of Love”), and among the most performed in the world, makes its Colombian debut as co-production between Ópera de Colombia and the Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo.
Originally set in an abandoned fishing village in what is now the Basque Country, when Donizetti’s melodrama premiered in 1832 at the Teatro della Canobianna in Milan, it was considered a contemporary love story involving a persistent young peasant, Nemorio, and the object of his affection, an amorous landlord: Adina. Felice Romani’s quick-witted libretto is best known for the second-act aria “Una furtiva lagrima.”
For nearly two centuries, “L’Elisir D’Amore” has been staged in almost all times and places, in keeping with this opera’s universal appeal to audiences, and for the Colombian premiere, the Colombian Opera and the Teatro Mayor embark on a hauntingly beautiful production with set design by acclaimed Colombian director Sergio Cabrera.
For Cabrera’s operatic debut, 19 by Donizettie Century Basque Country becomes La Guajira and a fishing community inhabited by members of the country’s indigenous Wayúu people. As a director who shot many of his works on the Colombian coast, including the hit television series Escalona (Caracol TV, 1992). Cabrera places great emphasis on respecting the authenticity of the original score by creating a windswept “rancheria” rooted in the territory’s matriarchal tradition. Donizetti among the Wayúu is announced by the director of the Colombian Opera, René Coronado, as “the most Colombian of all operas”.
With three performances at the Teatro Mayor – on October 26, 28 and 30 – Donizetti’s emblematic work will be performed by the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra (OFB), under the direction of the Venezuelan conductor Manuel Lopez-Gómez. The main roles are soprano Sara Bañeras (Spain) as Adina and tenor Julian Henao as Nemorino. Bass Hyalmar Mitrotti plays Dulcamara and Italian baritone Gianni Giugga as Belcore, the corruptible accomplice Sargeant. Colombian soprano Alejandra Ballestas is Giannetta, Adina’s confidante. The Colombian Opera Chorus accompanies this landmark production.
“L’Elisir D’Amore” by Donizetti is part of the 25th anniversary of the Ópera Al Parque festival and can be followed on social media with #ÓperaEnMovimiento. Adding authenticity to Cabrera’s cinematic vision, designers and artisans from Nazareth, a community in the northeast of the La Guajira peninsula, contributed art direction, lighting, costumes and makeup.
Cabrera was recently named Colombia’s ambassador to China, the country where he spent much of his early childhood. Born in Medellín in 1950, Cabrera moved at the age of 10 with his parents Fausto Cabrera and Luz Helena Cárdenas to Beijing, at a time when Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution “considered Mozart and all opera to be the devil”, a he told the City Paper.
After studying at the London Film School, Cabrera made his feature film debut in 1986 with Técnicas de duelo (A Question of Honor), which received the prize for best first film at the Cartagena International Film Festival; Silver Makhila Prize for Best First Film at the International Iberian and Latin American Film Festival in Biarritz (France); among others. His second feature, La Estrategia del Caracol (The Snail’s Strategy), premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 1993, becoming his first film to be commercially screened outside the country. The Strategy of the Snail is considered a pioneering work in Colombian cinema, and for this director, documentalist turned diplomat, the staging of Donizetti in the desert marks a turning point in a legendary career.
Major Theater. Avenue Calle 170 No.67-51
Performances: October 26 and 29 (8 p.m.); Sunday October 30 (5:00 p.m.).
Tickets available at the theater box office or online at www.teatromayor.org