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Three new releases push the boundaries of what an opera actually is, and how we may potentially define it. The oldest work, María di Buenos Aires, was composed by Ástor Piazzolla in 1968, and is generally described as a tango opera, and perhaps its most traditionally operatic aspect is that it follows the well-trodden and sorry path of a woman who is a prostitute, roaming the city in both life and death. Large dollops of magic realism and nebulous imagery culminate in the dead María’s virgin shadow bearing a child; not Jesus, but perhaps María’s reincarnation, or another being altogether? Otherwise it isn’t overly operatic at all as the main character is the Narrator, spoken here by Daniel Bonilla-Torres with husky intensity, and much of the music is created for dance. María is sung by mezzo Luciana Mancini with low-key passion. Christopher Sprenger conducts with precise and snappy rhythms that also allow some sway. The music is slick and sometimes arresting, but if you are not interested in tango then avoid: conversely, if you see yourself in an embrace and dancing counter-clockwise to Piazzolla’s sometimes angry pulse, then give a cabeceo – a precise nod and eye contact, the traditional way to engage a partner.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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