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Ginastera's opera Bomarzo returns to Buenos Aires
(May 2003)
ginasteraBomarzo.jpg Ginastera's opera Bomarzo returns in June to the stage of the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires

The Teatro Colon is mounting a production of Alberto Ginastera's second opera Bomarzo, opening in Buenos Aires on 13 June, in honour of the 20th anniversary of the composer's death on 25 June 1983. The staging is by Alfredo Arias and Stefan Lano conducts the cast including Carlos Bengolea, Alejandra Malvino, Lucila Ramos Mane and Marcelo Lombardero.

Ginastera's Bomarzo is a powerful and disturbing portrayal of Orsini, a 16th century Italian Duke, whose life flashes before him as he dies from poisoning. The drama explores the boundaries of psychology, symbolism, eroticism and fantasy, encouraging the composer to display his remarkable ear for colour through vivid orchestration. Bomarzo's estate north of Rome can still be visited, including its "Sacred Wood of Monsters" - grotesque carvings and rock sculptures of animals - linking us down the centuries with the Duke's obsessive and tortured mind.

The opera was commissioned by the Washington Opera Society, and its successful premiere in May 1967 conducted by Julius Rudel encouraged performances at the New York City Opera the following year and in Europe during the 1970s. However the planned staging in Buenos Aires scheduled for August 1967, soon after the Washington premiere, was banned, prompting the composer to refuse further performances in Argentina until the ban was lifted. This finally happened in 1972, when Bomarzo was staged at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires with the composer in attendance.

The Duke of Bomarzo drinks a magic potion that his astrologer Silvio de Narni claims will make him immortal.  Instead, it is a fatal poison. As he dies, the stunted hunchback Bomarzo relives his tortured existence through a series of flashbacks. His father drags him into a haunted room where a large skeleton dances and menaces him. Later, his father is mortally wounded in battle. The young man, still a virgin, is sent to the courtesan Pantasilea in Florence, but the reflection of his horrid image in her room of mirrors disturbs him.  His brother Girolamo falls from a cliff and dies. The new Duke meets Julia Farnese, but is angered when she prefers his brother Maerbale. In a macabre dance festival, erotic and terrifying dreams pass before the Duke. Still courting Julia, he spills a glass of red wine on her dress and interprets it as a premonition of death. After their marriage, Bomarzo finds himself impotent. As years go by, he becomes convinced that Julia is unfaithful with Maerbale. He orders his slave Abul to kill his brother. Silvio mixes the magic potion while Bomarzo’s nephew Nicolas watches. The boy poisons the drink. Bomarzo drinks it and dies.

> Further information on Bomarzo

Photo: 1972 production of Bomarzo in Buenos Aires

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