“3 óperas em um ato”
Savitri by G. Host, Une Education Manquée by E. Chabrier and Diary of the One who disappeared by L. Janácek.
"Opera" magazine (UK) - Frebruary/2008
Luiz Paulo Horta
This was one of the best shows of the year: a triple-bill of one-act operas by Holst, Chabrier and Janácek, directed by André Heller-Lopes for the “Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil” in Rio de Janeiro -- and all three pieces were being performed for the first time in Latin America.
“Savitri” has a metaphysical connotation – the ancient theme of the lover who fights Death in order to save his soul mate. Inspired in an episode from the “Mahabarata”, the great Indian epic poem, it was performed for the first time in 1916, in London. The opera has only three characters: the woman, the dying husband and Death, all of them very well served in this production by the voices of Liora Grodnikaite, Marcos Paulo and the excellent baritone Leonardo Neiva. Designs were sober and efficient.
A very different work came as the evening’s second opera: Chabrier’s “Une éducation manquée” (“An incomplete education”). An openly comic production to tell the story of an aristocratic couple in their honeymoon, highly educated but ignoring some – let’s say – “basic matters” of married life. Very good performances by Flavia Fernandes (soprano) and Carolina Faria (meio-soprano).
However, no matter how good those two works were, they proved to be in fact a sort of preparation for the last one on the evening’s program: the “Diary of the One who disappeared” by Leos Janácek. Among its many virtues the mini-opera brought us face to face with this genius of modern opera, reminding us bitterly of the fact that works as powerful as “Jenufa” or “Katya Kabanova” have not been done yet in the city.
Janácek, who lived between 1854 a 1928, was a late bloomer, a unique and original composer. In this production of Diary of the One who disappeared, we find ourselves confronted with a power of expression that throws us, body and soul, in the dramatic situations of which Janácek is a master. The opera is an autobiographic work finished in 1919 in which the composer portrays the passion that his ‘muse’ Kamila Stösslova inspired on him since their first meeting. In one letter to Kamila, dated 1924, the composer wrote: “the dark gipsy in ‘Diary’ was you. That’s why the work has so much fire and passion.”
It is precisely this passion that overflows in the CCBB’s production, thanks also to gifted performers: the tenor Marcos Paulo, a revelation, and the 29 year-old Lithuanian mezzo-soprano, Liora Grodnikaite. She is a true “diva”, an ascending singer, and we are lucky to have the chance to hear her now.
She is the gipsy that bewitches the young Janík — and whom would not fall head over hills for the mysterious, cat-like figure on the stage of the CCBB?
As important as the thoughtful stage direction, essential to this production’s success was the piano, played by Linda Bustani — an orchestra in it, in perfect synchrony with Janácek’s fantastic musical idiom.
A must see.