Tango Amor - Jun 4th, 2014
Wiener Staatsballet: "Tango Amor" (Volksoper Vienna, June 4th, 2014)
A very unusual evening at the Volksoper (Vienna). Light years distant from the usual shows and operettas that are the trade mark of this theatre…
The story takes place in “La Boca” one “barrio” (district) from Buenos Aires, very near the old port. I was once there. It still has a sort of European flavour due to the fact that many residents are of European descent – mostly Italian, Spanish, German, French and Basque. La Boca also carries the reputation of being one of the “birth places” of the real Tango (but there are so many theories… one even tells us the story that a Dutch composer could not sell his material in Holland and could only find a music publisher in Buenos Aires willing to buy it… and this new “rhythm” was the one that was developed into “Tango”. Anyways… No one will really ever know... Fact is that "Tango" is a state of mind...).
The basic concept of this “play with music and dance” is a very nice, entertaining one… simple, straight forward, without affectations and high level ambitions. The use of lights, of a small tango orchestra together with the players on stage and the nearly non-existing sceneries gave me sometimes (Some may not understand that) a sort of Brecht-like feeling. Clever, good, intelligent!
Volksoper’s clarinetist Mr. Helmut Hödl is responsible for the music: adapting old Tangos and composing new ones. His work has enough consistency to carry this 1,5 hours programme without boring us, much on the contrary.
Michael Masula and Daniel Ochoa (singing well in Castlian!) caught our attention in their roles.
But Lola – in fact the central character of the play - was not quite so fortunate in its casting. Created in the old tradition of the Spanish-speaking temptresses in mad search of their own freedom (like “Carmen” and Marlene Dietrich’s “Concha Perez” from "The Devil is a woman", just to name a few) she lacked certain qualities that are more than essential to the character. Miss Çigdem Soyarslan does not possess that extra “dose” of sex-appeal required for the role, that "it"; apart from the fact that her physique, compared to the girls on stage, gave us the impression of plumpness and inertia. Unfortunately her pronunciation in German made it nearly impossible for the audience to understand her lines. That was the most disturbing element of her performance. The Lola "in my mind" has a deeper voice, more silk-like, in some way resembling "Libertad Lamarque" (an old Argentinian singer that also sang many tangos before being expatriated by Evita Péron - but that is another story!) and less operetta-like.
But, to be very honest, “Tango Amor” just becomes really alive when the dancers are on stage – and Thank God they are very often in the spotlight! Miss Orlic’s choreography and her use of props were in fact a very welcome surprise turning the Ensemble into the real Star of the evening!
The use of a video to forward the story was the only point that I simply did not appreciate. A bit of creativity could have been used by director Monica Rusu in order not to have to use another vehicle to tell us story that is basically happening on stage. All of a sudden another language was being spoken.
Even if the video is a very good work, in itself, by Mr. Balázs Delbó, it is not suitable for the story-telling. That special intimacy, that “love affair” that is developed between the players and the audience during a performance, was all of a sudden lost… not to return…
Last but not least, I must correct one extreme mistake that is involved with this production. A mistake that was overlooked by the Heads of production…
You see, I believe that dancers are the ones that work harder than anyone else in a theatre. Therefore their work should be cherished, praised.
Arriving home after the performance last Wednesday I, all of a sudden realized, that in the evening Programme dancers were referred to as “Figuration” and not even mentioned. It is simply unfair, indelicate, in fact an insult to call them "extras".
Making a long story short, I want to mention the names of the ones that gave so much Joy to the audience during this short performance and, by the way, got a huge (and very long) applause:
Josefine Tyler, Natalie Salazar, Rebecca Horner, Ekatarina Fitzka & Tainá Ferreira Luiz and Felipe Vieira, Martin Winter, Andres Garcia Torres, Samuel Colombet, Patrik Hullman, Lázló Benedek & Gleb Shilov.
A great Ensemble that did a great Job!