As director David Lefkowich explained before the show, Maria de Buenos Aires is more poetic and lyrical than realistic and literal. Most opera is to some extent, by definition of the art form, but in this case we're really free to enjoy the beauty of the music, performances, and dance as it affects the heart and soul, without too much left brain involvement. The final performance is tonight and it's virtually sold out (see rush ticket info here) so you're likely out of luck. They'll hopefully be back at the Courtyard next year, but I quite enjoyed the diversion into this little gem of an opera.
So what is this show about anyway? I asked myself before the show. That's like asking, what is poetry about? I don't usually know, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the beauty of it. To be technical, Maria de Buenos Aires is about a woman named Maria living in Buenos Aires, not surprisingly. But beyond that, I'm not really sure what it's "about." There's a tragedy, although I'm not quite sure what it is. Maria dies, and comes back as a ghost, or maybe she's just pregnant and gives birth. There is much Catholic imagery in the lyrics (75% of Argentinians are Catholic), with references to that other famous Maria/Mary. And like poetry, layers and layers of meaning and interpretation that I can't even begin to unpack. But the characters and emotions come through strongly via the music, movement, and words displayed on several TVs around the space, which read like poetry.
|Catalina Cuervo as Maria|
(photo by Dan Norman)
The music of the opera is gorgeous with a distinct Argentinian sound. Conductor Brian DeMaris leads the 11-piece orchestra, which includes JP Jofre playing the bandoneon (sort of a small accordion) like another character in the story. It would be entertaining and emotive and moving as a concert piece alone, but add in the dancing and singing and performing, and it's quite a night.