Figaro and his weddings passed through Bogotá – Music and books – Culture

He has just finished presenting “Las bodas de Fígaro”, one of the most famous operas in the world, at the Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo in Bogotá.

For three days (August 31 and September 2 and 4), the audience followed the adventures of Figaro and his girlfriend Susanna to defend their love against the feudal lord, Count Almaviva. He did so through an international cast in a co-production of Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo and Compañía Estable.

The Austrian Martin Hasselböck, founder of the Orchester Wiener Akademie, took care of the musical direction, and the stage direction was the work of the Colombian Pedro Salazar, Director of Performing Arts at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Los Andes and founder of The Stable Company.

Four artists traveled to work with seven other Colombians on this creation by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte, composer and librettist, which premiered in Vienna in 1786. The Marriage of Figaro caused controversy for its criticism of aristocratic morality at the time , when it started several revolutions and his defense of freedom still stands.

In the assembly, which featured the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and the Youth Philharmonic Choir of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Bogotá, Spanish baritone José Antonio López plays Figaro. Austrian baritone Günter Haumer and British soprano Kate Royal represented Almaviva’s counts. Colombian soprano Juliet Lozano was Susanna; bass-baritone Valeriano Lanchas plays Bartolo and Colombian mezzo-soprano Laura Mosquera plays Cherubino. The Colombians Hans Ever Mogollon, Julián Oussama, Saya Isabel Hincapier and Luis Carlos Hernández also participated, as well as the Venezuelan mezzo-soprano Ana Mora.

This was the seventh time The Marriage of Figaro could be seen in Colombia; the last one took place ten years ago, in 2012. EL TIEMPO talked to the protagonist, the Spaniard José Antonio López (Murcia, 1973).

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How was the presentation experience in Bogotá?
The reception from the audience in Bogotá was incredible. I was fascinated every night of the show to feel the connection with the viewer beyond the physical. There is something intangible that is felt in his delivery and attention. Together, performers and spectators, we share Mozart’s immensity in magical nights I want to add that I feel like a privileged being who is given to do what he loves. And one of those great gifts is to live this Mozartian character. For that I can only express my eternal gratitude.

Vienna, Puerto Rico, Stockholm, Warsaw, Mexico, Los Angeles, London and the main cities of Spain are some of the places where it is represented. Is this your first time in Colombia? What is your experience in the country?
It’s not my first time in Colombia. For several years, I had the opportunity to be invited by the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra and participated in the Classical Music Festival in 2019. So I was lucky enough to enjoy Bogotá several times, although to be honest, I only knew this city. I have always been welcomed and surrounded by magnificent music and theater professionals. So I am happy to be in a country that I consider brotherly.

What is your job to portray Figaro in the opera you present?
By studying the score in depth, Mozart already explains to us how the character thinks and moves, how he feels, what worries he has, how he feels in every moment and situation. This makes it very easy to understand what is and How can I get into the skin of Figaro? Then comes the director’s point of view and places it in the social and historical context in which it must be developing at the time. But the main base is in the result.

Apart from the technical work it requires, undoubtedly huge, this Mozart Figaro has an emotional component that fascinates me, I love his staying power, his intelligence, his honesty, his cunning and his humanity. I like that he’s not a hero; He is an ordinary man with a difficult life that he faces and overcomes day after day, with a critical thinking that he exercises by rebelling against the abuse of power.

Although the greater truth, and this is how I suppose to interpret this Mozartian character, is that he is simply a man in love. From now on, it’s easy for me to love Figaro and surrender to his music every time I look through his eyes.

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Do you think Figaro is a valid opera? How would you advise reading or interpreting it today?
“The Marriage of Figaro” deals with absolutely universal themes, which, unfortunately, some of them have not gone out of fashion and are still relevant today, such as the hierarchy between social classes, the lack of freedoms and the abuse of power by rulers. Although, on the other hand, he also talks about friendship, brotherhood and love under comic discourse. Today it should be read in its original format because I think it is relevant; It is not a work that is out of date. This is a great masterpiece.

Is opera ok right now?
I think so. In all the places I have worked and continue to work, I have always seen the rooms full. People attend and need to hear opera and classical music. I hope that everyone, even once in their life, has the opportunity to see an opera, and if I had to choose which one, I recommend that it should be “The Marriage of Figaro” by Mozart.

What projects do you have for the future? Is Colombia in them?
Hopefully soon Colombia will be among my next engagements. Here I feel welcome, like at home and always accompanied by a professional and human team of the highest level. Of my next projects, I can talk about the ones that will come to fruition this season. Besides the gift of starting with Figaro here in Bogotá with La Compañía Estable and the mayor of the theater Julio Mario Santo Domingo, I have a time full of opera and concerts in various cities such as Basel, Verona, Ferrara, Cincinnati, Madrid, Mallorca, Oviedo, Vigo, Murcia, Bilbao and Granada to name a few.

I have projects that make me very happy, among which are “The cantatas for deep voice” by Bach, “El retablo de maese Pedro” by Manuel de Falla, “La sinfonía de los mil” and “Canción de la tierra” by Mahler , as well as Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi.

Also the Spanish Breton opera “La Dolores” and the premiere of the opera “El Arxiduc” by Antoni Parrera. And to work together with wonderful groups such as the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, La Cetra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra or the National Orchestra of Spain, among others, under the baton of conductors such as Andrea Marcon, Juanjo Mena, Carlos Mena or Pablo Heras Casado.

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