Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Teatro Colón

If you have been to Buenos Aires, you must have noticed the incapacity
some Argentinians have when it comes to following rules. If you speak a little Spanish and have ever tried to understand the lyrics of at least, one tango song, you might have understood that the main character in the song has either gotten away with something or has beaten his opponent.He has done this by disrespecting rules, sometimes rules of honor, by cheating.

Tango songs and bad driving are typical of our culture. Take one second,
stand in any avenue corner, preferably by a policeman and observe how drivers
run yellow and red lights, drive on biking paths, or speed up when a pedestrian
is trying to cross the street.
Take note of the policeman, probably too busy texting messages on his cell phone or smoking a cigarette to catch drivers breaking the law.

While driving around town looking at the beautiful European architecture
the city is famed for, you will be intrigued by the magnificence of a
building that stands on Av. Cerrito and Viamonte: Teatro Colon, a jewel, not
only for its architecture but also for the art that is produced inside. The
theater reopened on 2010 after years of restoration work.

Unfortunately, it's not working at its fullest capacity because, just as
anything Argentinian, the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, that operates it, and a great number of members of its orchestra (grouped as a union) cannot
reach an agreement regarding working conditions. As a result, the opera that
was to open the theater's season: György Ligetis "Le Grand Macabre" was
put on stage under the direction of Baldur Bröinniman in a non orchestral version consisting of two pianos and percussion.

If you have stayed long enough in Buenos Aires, you must have realized another
thing about us: the ability to get by with what's available. You must
have heard a very popular phrase: "Es lo que hay" meaning: "This is what there is." So for example, although Plácido Domingo was recently scheduled to perform at the Colón, due to a series of events, he was unable to do so, and performed at the Obelisk instead. It was still a wonderful experience enjoyed by everyone and people were extremely happy, and he was too. It was a most memorable event.

There are some issues with the theater, yes, but next time you visit Buenos Aires (or if you're here now), do try to go to the Teatro Colón. It's an experience you don't want to miss. There are many ways to get a good feel for it. I suggest that you try them all:
1) book a guided tour: this will give you a good feel of all the details that must come together to put on a performance. You will walk by rehearsal rooms, you will see the way costumes are made for every show, etc.
2) buy tickets to a performance, the best ones are on a program called
"Abono del Bicentenario" (it only occurs once a month).
3) buy seats on higher floors.

If you book ahead of time, you will get good seats that will combine the possibility of seeing and hearing the performance, otherwise you will be missing the view.

The acoustics, the architecture, and the art you will encounter will make you walk out of there having had a very nice time. If something goes wrong, as it did with Ligeti's opera, you still will have had an experience in itself. After all, this is Argentina (and there is what there is).

For performances and guided tours visit www.teatrocolon.org.ar

Guest post by Valeria Mendez Cañas.

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