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August 20, 2017
Friday, January 29, 2016

The Tempest gets alluring show on Tigre isle

William Shakespeare’s The Tempest staged at the San Francisco Monastery in Tigre.
William Shakespeare’s The Tempest staged at the San Francisco Monastery in Tigre.
William Shakespeare’s The Tempest staged at the San Francisco Monastery in Tigre.
By Silvia Rottenberg
For The Herald

Opera festival puts together magical night-time play of theatre, dancing, and singing

The moment one sets foot on the boat to set sail to the island, the city buzz is left behind and the magic unfolds. Upon arrival on the island, the adventure begins, just like for the main characters of Shakespeare’s Tempest, Prospero and his daughter Miranda. However, unlike their story of survival and taking reign of the isle, the guests of the Festival Opera Tigre are invited to enjoy a chori and wine before the event starts.

A group of fabulous dancers leads the audience throughout the performance, which takes place on different spots of the island. They crawl, hiss and growl to help you move along to the different stages under the stars. The show starts at the back on the San Francisco convent on this Tigre island. It resembles a castle and serves perfectly as such. The tall windows are used for silhouette dances and the walls as projection screens. The stage setting is beautiful, with a convincing Nacho Gadano as Prospero. Stuck in his enormous outfit, symbol of his growing power on the island, without thinking of going back to the place he was exiled from, Gadano has physical limitations in his acting. Nevertheless, he is more than capable of working with and around them.

His daughter Miranda is played by the enchanting Natalia Quiroga Romero, who, only late in the play, has the opportunity to let her voice shine. She has a beautiful timbre, angelic almost, and such control that her singing is almost natural. She floats on stage — and clearly enjoys the performance while giving the best of herself. She could perhaps work on her English pronunciation, something that the cast — which features many more actors — did not have to worry about, as the theatrical part was in Spanish.

For the performance to be called an opera, there was a lot of theatre in comparison to the musical and singing part of the spectacle. The theatrical side was good and entertaining, but do not expect pur sang opera. It’s a playful event, where the voices that do participate — another special mention for Guadalupe Barrientos, with a strong, powerful and warm voice — are of great quality, but their presence is not leading in this show, which could be seen as a true pity if one expected an opera in its traditional sense.

Opera nevertheless is more than music. It is about the entirety on stage: the acting, dancing, stage setting, costumes, etc. The director and his team have clearly taken the natural location as the base of this production and worked from there. Turning the San Francisco convent on the Tigre island into a Shakespearian/Purcell-like castle. The middle of the island turns into a forest full of fairytale-like creatures, where Miranda and her lover Fernando meet. The former gas platform on the corner of the island is Caliban’s cave, where Prospero’s slave, together with two drunkards, plots to murder his master. After conspiring drunkenly, they unexpectedly jump into the water towards the spectators, including them in their scheme…

The show is full of playful staging tricks by a director who clearly has experience and fun when working on a new location. The choreography is crucial in ensuring the production’s consistency on different locations. The choir and orchestra could perhaps have played such a role as well, yet they remained on the first and last location of the touring show: the castle.

An accordion player, meanwhile, accompanied the singers in their arias. Nature did its work with the acoustics. Some of the arias, which were not from Purcell’s Tempest, seemed to lack relevance in the story, but they were well-sung, theatricality was boosted with acrobatics, dance and superb lighting, all under the summer sky.

Unlike Propero’s and Miranda’s island, this Tigre island is not so deserted but not all neighbours may be the biggest of opera fans. What seemed to be a music battle at first was easily won though by the Festival Opera Tigre. Surely the neighbours will stop by for one of the next performances? They should prepare to be seduced by the magic of this show.

where and when

Fom the January 27 through 30 at San Francisco Monastery in Tigre, at 9pm. Lead cast: Nacho Gadano and Guadalupe Barrientos. Choreographed by Diana Teocharidis under the musical direction of Juan Casasbellas. Tickets at 420 pesos, discount fare of 270 pesos for seniors and children under 14, 100 pesos for local islanders.

festival highlights

On February 11 and 12: scheduled reruns of last year’s Fairy Queen. Spoken in Spanish, songs in English. On the Web: www.festivaloperatigre.com

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