January 24, 2021

Puccini parks in the garage

Puccini parks in the garage

Paris, around 1840. In a humble garret of the Latin Quarter, a poet and a painter survive in harsh conditions in the inclement winter. When a neighboring seamstress comes to ask for a fire to light her candle, the poet falls in love with her on the spot. Let's jump forward a century and a half: Madrid, around 2015. In an abandoned garage on the outskirts of the city, a film writer and a plastic artist barely survive the inclement winter. When a young fashion stylist appears in the garage, the screenwriter falls in love with her immediately. This "underground" version – never better said – of Puccini's La Bohème, in which Mimi is no longer a fragile young woman but a determined woman, and in which Rodolfo does not feed the fire with the manuscripts of his poems, but of his screenplays, will premiere in Madrid on March 14 at the Aída garage in Tetuán.

This is the first show, which already swept Bilbao and Barcelona, ​​the Opera Garage concept designed by Emiliano Suárez, co-producer and stage director of this "Bohème", whose intention is to change the big theaters for more urban scenarios that arouse enthusiasm of young people by the opera, not only because of its more informal format, but because the tickets are more accessible. «My approach to opera was pure creative inertia; in the end, it's my great hobby. Some time ago I decided that I had to fulfill my own dreams and join my experience in the executive field with music, theater, art and all the issues that remove me and give me the energy to continue advancing ", says Suárez who, Yes, he is the grandson of the founder of Jewelery Suárez. Among those dreams to fulfill was the assembly of a contemporary "Bohème" that was commissioned about three years ago by Friends of the Opera of Coruña. The project, however, did not finish: "It was not possible to reach an agreement because there was no money to face it. I ended up exhausted, disappointed, and put the project in a drawer, thinking: "Here it stays, and probably never opens this drawer again", recalls Suarez.

It was not like that, of course. Two years later, he inaugurated his photography exhibition "Textures of New York" at the San Mamés garage in Bilbao, his hometown. Macarena Bergareche, curator of the show, recalls that "when we were hanging the paintings, Emiliano, a great opera lover and with tenor skills, began to sing and realized that the garage had spectacular acoustics". The "La Bohème" drawer opened again, this time with Bergareche as a member. «The garage caught me. And suddenly, I said: "But if this is the bohemian of the 21st century; the alternative spaces to the outskirts of the cities where the young emerging talents try and create. This is our scenography "», recalls the stage director. The place, with its exposed beams, broken glass and its decadent appearance in general, was perfect for the version he had devised of Puccini's famous opera.

The most expensive show

In that garage, and with sold-out tickets, they premiered the assembly last autumn, which they later took to Barcelona and after Madrid will continue their tour, ideally passing through Pamplona, ​​Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Valencia. Its "portable" quality is one of the keys to the success of Opera Garage. As Suarez explains: "It is an easy format to move and assemble and part of the profitability of the project is to reduce the usual costs of doing opera, which is the most expensive show in the world as it is conceived today." He adds that he does not position himself against the fact that the big theaters invest considerable sums in ambitious productions and in hiring the best directors and artists, "but that cost has a direct repercussion for the spectator. The vast majority of tickets are very expensive, but not all, is not worth hiding behind the claim that the opera is for the rich. Music is universal and whoever wants to go ».

Those of his show are between 40 and 60 euros. In Bilbao all were sold in less than a week and, according to Bergareche, 40 percent of the people who attended had never gone to the opera or had never seen "La Bohème". It also states that the average age of the public has so far been between 35 and 45 years. Another way to reduce costs is that they do not have an orchestra or choirs, but rather it is a piano version by the master repertoire Borja Mariño. Suárez says that the piano gives him "a melancholy, intimate point that goes very well with what we are telling. An orchestra in this production would be like putting an elephant in a china shop. The same as putting a chorus. When we turn off the light and the first note begins, the magic is done. "La Bohème" is a story of emotions, which revolves around love and other more complicated issues, and death lurks from the start. Its success is that the spectators have a shrunken heart from the first note to the last. " "The public is very close and can see how we breathe, observe the expressions of the face, details that in a great theater go unnoticed," says Mariola Cantarero, who plays Mimi. On how this new format has impacted on his own interpretation, he says: «You feel freer because you have the closeness and intimacy of a recital or a piano concert, where the audience is more with you, and, at the same time, the intensity of Puccini. His music already thrills you a lot, but to feel it so close, even more. When my character dies and I see the public from so close, completely immersed in what happens … it's amazing, it's another movie ». In this version, which "is done from a deep respect to the score", in the words of Cantarero, acts I, III and VI, and an extract from II are presented in their entirety. The only changes to the script were made with the intention of eliminating the choirs.

"For the traditional public, it's a very interesting novelty and for those who have never seen an opera, it's a pretty good way to approach it," insists the soprano. It is precisely one of Suarez's objectives: "Those of us who are passionate about gender have a responsibility to open doors to new audiences and young people. The sooner you feel curious about music, the sooner you can develop that hobby. " His was born when he was just ten years old and his parents took him to see "Adriana Lecouvreur" at the Teatro de la Zarzuela.

Pure passion

"We have to come to Madrid with our homework," says Suárez about the importance he gives to the premiere in the capital. He also confesses that "directing the scene was a challenge that scared me a lot because, in addition, the artists who collaborate with us do it out of pure passion and are of the highest level". Cantarero has known him for years and says that Suarez "sold him very well" the project: "I had never done something like this, it was an adventure. After almost twenty years of career it is true that I wanted to try something new. At this point, I look for the projects to comfort me artistically. Although at first I could have my doubts, now I think: "Blessed madness", says the soprano, adding: "The singers are from a very high circuit, we have sung together in the different theaters and that was already a sign that I was going to have quality. We have all embarked with the same enthusiasm ». Among them the tenor Shalva Mukeria, who replaces Francisco Corujo in the role of Rodolfo, since Corujo will shortly premiere "El barberillo de Lavapiés" at the Teatro de la Zarzuela. Stefano Palatchi plays Colline, Manel Esteve a Marcello, Javier Galán a Schaunard turned pop artist, with leather boots and boots, and Ruth Terán the eccentric Mussetta.


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