The frenetic life of Gustavo Dudamel, the Venezuelan conductor who has shone on the stages of four continents, is as intense as his movements when he raises the baton. This should have been his sabbatical year, as he confesses, but the schedule of performances recorded on his website shows that this will not be possible: “The sabbatical did not exist; he will exist, I imagine, in about 10 years”, he suggested with a smile during the presentation in Barcelona of the Magic Flutethe Mozart opera that he will direct from June 20 to July 2, and with which he returns to the Gran Teatro del Liceo after having taken charge of the Othello by Verdi last season. Dudamel (41 years old), who in 2021 signed as the new director of the Paris Opera (and who will continue to lead the Los Angeles Opera until 2026), feels that he is entering a stage of “maturity”. Get in front of the Magic Flute for the first time is a symbol of it.
“Everything depends on the artistic lifeline that one follows”, suggested Dudamel, who recalled that one of his teachers, the great orchestra conductor Claudio Abbado, took until the end of his life to direct the Magic Flute, whose representation at the Liceo is one of the great bets of the theater for the celebration of its 175th anniversary. The presentation of Mozart’s opera has attracted the presence this Tuesday of part of the cast that will take it to the stage. Also that of the artistic director of the operatic institution, Víctor García de Gomar, who has highlighted the “values of the Enlightenment, but also of Freemasonry”, which are contained in Mozart’s piece, the last by the Salzburg composer, which is staged just a few weeks before his death, in September 1791.
The plot of the opera, which exposes the journey of Prince Tamino in search of Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night, takes shape in the staging of the Lyceum, which recovers the production that David McVicar made for the Royal Opera House of London in 2003, and which stands out for the symbolic and playful aspects of its proposal. McVicar shines the key themes of the work: the struggle of opposites, good and evil, intelligence and ignorance or science and superstition, which are represented –for example– in the phrases engraved on the walls of the palace of Sarastro, the character that keeps Pamina captive.
The importance of childhood in the work is evident in characters such as the Queen of the Night, who appears characterized as Snow White’s Stepmother in the Disney classic. “The Magic Flute reaches children, and they also have a very important role in this opera, because they are the carriers of wisdom”, highlighted the Italian-Chilean Paolo Bortolameolli, assistant director to Dudamel at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and that he will take the baton at the Lyceum on June 27 and July 1.
The international presence in the cast is important. Mexican tenor Javier Camarena, who is also returning to the Liceo, makes his debut in the role of Tamino. The Englishwoman Lucy Crowe will also act, who plays Pamina, a character who, according to her, exemplifies truth, innocence and purity, a powerful figure in Mozart’s plot. For his part, choreographer Angelo Smimmo, McVicar’s assistant and part of the revival team, pointed out that the Magic Flute that will be seen at the Liceo will be one of the “most avant-garde theater pieces that we know of”. History, he has indicated, was already advanced for its time, by giving voice to women and young people, “something unheard of” in the eighteenth century.
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