Argentina

A Night at the Opera in Buenos Aires


We have two things on today’s agenda: 1) to get back to Buenos Aires; 2) the performance of Benjamin Britten’s opera “Death in Venice” at the Teatro Colon. The early morning flight home is uneventful, despite being late, and by 12:30 we are back at the apartment. We are glad to see Buenos Aires, and feel “at home”.

La Scala-Like

I walk to the theater hoping to be able to buy tickets for tonight; we had not done this before as we were originally not to arrive back in Buenos Aires until 11 p.m. tonight. Our changed plans allow us the chance to see the opera. The theater takes has a commanding position on Av. 9 de Julio, called the widest street in the world, with its huge obelisk visible all the way up and down the avenue. The opera is being staged at the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires’s masterpiece of acoustical engineering. Based on Milan’s La Scala, but an order of magnitude larger, it is a completely self-contained facility, its workshops and rehearsal rooms deep under the streets surrounding the theater  It is also world-renowned for the fact that there is not a seat in the house in which the music cannot be heard clearly. That is not to say that it has good sight lines  however: It is a horseshoe-ring style of theater  with 6 tiers, and most of the seats on the sides and the upper tiers have impaired views of the stage. This is, unfortunately, where the only remaining seat are; but I buy them anyway.

A Tenor’s Stamina

We spend the first act of the opera craning to see a portion of the stage, although we have absolutely no problem hearing. The singing is truly wonderful. We are amazed at the stamina of the tenor, Nigel Robson, who is singing Von Aschenbach: he is onstage for virtually the entire act, and as the opera is more or less an interior monologue, he sings non-stop. During the intermission, we indulge in a glass of Argentinean champagne. Here in Argentina, it is the beverage of choice, not only here at the opera, but as in Australia, anywhere and anytime. Fortunately for us, more than a few members of the audience clearly didn’t enjoy the first act of this difficult and introspective opera, and we realize just before the lights go down that there are going to be plenty of empty seats during the second half. We quickly move to much better seats, and are glad to be able to see the second act. The staging is incredibly inventive, and we are glad to have been able to enjoy it.

We walk home through the streets of Buenos Aires talking at length of this opera, its meaning, and its truths. Although at this hour every restaurant in town is still eager to serve dinner, we were up early for our flight home, and our exhaustion overwhelms any hunger, and so we opt for bed.

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