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Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor: Soloists, Chorus, Orchestra of Teatro Argentino. Conductor:Carlos Vieu, Teatro Argentino, La Plata. 14.8.2009. (JSJ) 

Director: Claudia Billourou
Sets/lighting: Juan Carlos Greco
Costumes: Nidia Ponce
Chorus: Miguel Fabián Martínez

Lord Enrico Ashton: Fabián Veloz / Leonardo Estévez
Lucia: Paula Almerares / María Bugallo
Sir Edgardo di Ravenswood: Juan Carlos Valls / Leonardo Pastore
Lord Arturo Bucklaw: Leonardo Pastore / Sergio Spina
Raimondo Bidebent: Christian Peregrino / Mario De Salvo
Alisa: Vanesa Mautner / María Inés Franco
Normanno: Carlos Iaquinta / Sergio Spina / Gustavo Monastra

Paula Almerares (Lucia) in the mad scene with Christian Peregrino (Raimondo) looking on.

Disrupted theatre schedules as a result of swine flu containment measures in Buenos Aires in July are slowly sorting themselves out and one production that was affected was the Teatro Argentino’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor: it was originally scheduled for July but was postponed by a month (while the planned August production of Werther has been cancelled.)

Ironically this performance too was affected, with the withdrawal of Gustavo López Manzitti (Edgardo) due to sickness and on the opening night Carlos Iaquinta standing in for Sergio Spina (Normanno). But otherwise all proceeded as planned for what the director’s introduction in the programme promised would be a modern production of this work, which is of course originally set in late 17th century Scotland.

Modern in this case extended principally to the setting and the dress – the setting simple and warehouse-like, serving both as an exterior and interior (although the function of rows of queue control stanchions and ribbons in the first scene was unclear), and the dress, well... in many cases looking as if out of the wearer’s wardrobe and what they had come to the theatre wearing. Arriving on a bicycle, Edgardo was either a “green” or had fallen on hard times.

Fortunately the shortcomings of the production (the producer was booed in the curtain call) were more than compensated, in most cases at least,  by the musical excellence of the cast, chorus and orchestra. As Lucia,  Paula Almerares excelled from her first note, her voice strong and secure, and her “mad scene” was masterly with her expression moving from deranged to vacant – but who was the woman who, distractingly, shadowed her with outstretched arms during this scene, as if some sort of comforter?

As Enrico Fabián Veloz presented a polished and faultless performance, while Christian Peregrino was good as Raimondo,  and despite his not having a large voice Maestro Vieu ensured he could be heard by containing the orchestra.

Uruguayan tenor Juan Carlos Valls took over the role of Edgardo in Manzitti’s place and while satisfactory appeared to be strained at times.Leonardo Pastore was adequate as Arturo, as was Vanesa Mautner as Alisa.

The chorus were in good form, as was the orchestra and all was held together by an enthusiastic Vieu.

Jonathan Spencer Jones

Picture © Teatro Argentino, La Plata

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