The director of the island´s music academy has recently delivered the first opera fully produced on the island, with students, staff and volunteers coming together to perform to more than 500 people at the El Salinero Teatro in the island´s capital city of Arrecife.
And only last week Dee and I saw a live performance called Algo mas que Opera, which, More Than Opera. This was the final concert, number 8, in this year´s series of Conciertos Clasicos. We had attended all of last year´s series but other arts events had meant this would be only our third of this year´s presentations. In 2018 the Opera related concert had been a light hearted, flirtatious and romantic affair, delivered by five or six protagonists.
This year the total number of performers was three, being a Baritone, a Soprano and a female pianist. The programme looked to hold somewhat more gravitas too, and we noticed composers such as Mozart, Puccini, Gounod and Bellini in what was listed the ´Opera´ section. The second section was named Zarzuela, which translates as Spanish Musical Theatre, and therefore sounded slightly lighter.
Baritone Borja Molino, all bearded and brooding, is a native of Lanzarote and has taken part in many notable productions. His delivery of ´Deh vieni all Finestra´ was performed over a playful piano accompaniment. The power, and the carry, of his voice were even better demonstrated on Gounod´s ´Avant de quitter ces lieux´ but even when singing at such strength he never lost his musicality. There were lovely piano trills too as he gave us ´Ah per sempro lo ti perdei´ by Vicenza Bellini, to which he contributed a real sense of yearning.
Taking alternate lead roles through this six-piece Opera half of the show Soprano, Tairuma Mendez, proved an absolute delight. She has performed in many excellent Opera productions but has also played lead roles, such as Evita, in musical theatre.
Tairuma maximised the opportunities here to provide the light and shade that were to be found in Puccini´s ´Donde liete usci´ and exquisitely conveyed her desolation in his ´Sola perduta abbandonata.´ She also beautifully delivered another Puccini piece, ´O mio baboino caro´ with perfect control at notes at both ends of the register. Her long, sustained soaring fashions were incredible.
Suddenly, after a brief interval, these two performers stepped outside their various characters of that first half and, as their real selves, enjoyed some witty and pointed banter between each other, and with the audience, before they moved into the Zarzuela section. They performed together on ´Duo somos dos barcos´ and ´hace tiempoque vengo al taller´ and ¨Que esta esta muy bajo´ even saw them partake in some quick and witty call and response pieces.
As a soloist in this section our male vocalist gave us a pensive performance of ´Luche la fe por el triunto´ and a sombre ´Calor de Nido´ and his delivery of ´Amor vida de mi vida´ brought rapturous applause.
In her solo pieces in this section Tairuma Mendez also gave full range to her wonderful voice and, too, displayed excellent acting and interpretive skills, most dramatically perhaps in ´La Pretenera.´
All of this and more was accompanied unobtrusively by pianist Conchi Reyes. She moved effortlessly from playful to portentous, as required, and was not only sympathetic in her playing for her vocalists but also was empathetic in her playing for their characters.
The standing ovation and demands for an encore had been well earned by all three musicians and the subsequent closing work of the evening was a tour de force that saw baritone and soprano battle, for the sake of the song, with each contriving almost impossible vocal leaps to complement the music from the piano.
We talk a lot on these pages about standing ovations and encores but the frequency of them should not diminish their status. Artists on Lanzarote do not receive applause for reputation, for rarely do is there a sufficient public awareness that would make that happen. The ovations are given instead for their abilities, professionalism and entertainment value.
Dee and I haven´t yet stayed seated because we have felt the standing ovation around us was unwarranted, but neither do we rise to our feet simply because others do. We stand for a performance that has genuinely rated an 11 out of 10 mark on our imaginary scorecards, and this was and this was another of many that have done so, this year.
Check our archives for;
The Marriage Of Figaro and Opera On Offer For All nK