I have seen three performances of Otello in the last two weeks - two at Castleton and another last night here in Buenos Aires. I am a smaller theatre man - and I have a high regard for the integrity of classic productions such as those created by the likes of Peter Hall, whose Glyndebourne Otello graced Castleton.
Here in Buenos Aires there is the magnificent Teatro Colón - a wonderful old theatre restored to all its original glory - but it is huge. And the production was by the tenor exponent of the title role, José Cura, the darling of the Argentine public and a man with a distinguished singing career these last 20+ years. He not only directed but also designed the sets. So this was an event to be sure.
And on the musical side there were also stark contrasts. In Castleton the presiding genius was Lorin Maazel whose preparation and delivery of the performance was state of the art, the gold standard. In the Colón my dear colleague from Neue Stimmen 2011, Carlos Vieu, was conducting most valiantly his very first performance of Otello, without rehearsal, taking over the last performance from Massimo Zanetti.
So I guess comparisons should not be made. But I should say that there was much to enjoy. The Desdemona of Carmen Giannattasio is a great acquisition - as was Joyce El-Khoury in Castleton. There was a fine young baritone from La Plata in Fabion Veloz, and the exceptional Emilia of Neue Stimmen alumna Guadaloupe Barrientos.
The Buenos Aires audience is knowlegable and noisy - it takes one back to the heady days of the 50s and 60s, and probably the pre war Met, when audiences participated with such passion and enthusiasm - they were part of the performance. So it wa an exciting evening and an experience unlike anything one is likely to encounter in Europe these days!
I have been tidying up Neue Stimmen paper work all morning, and looking carefully at the waiting list. We should be bringing forward some of those by this time next week.
And before Karita Mattila's recital this evening I will go down to MALBA - the Museum of Latin American Art. No less for the building than for the permanent collection and the Yayoi Kusama exhibition.