|Paul La Rosa rehearsing Maria de Buenos Aires in San Diego (Photo: Angel Mannion)
The opera will be directed by John de los Santos, who has directed the piece throughout the country, and will direct it again with barihunk Luis Alejandro Orozco at the Fort Worth Opera Festival from April 27 and May 5. Paul La Rosa's tango partner will be soprano Aubrey Babcock.
The opera opens with Duende (the Narrator) who relates the story of Maria, a prostitute born in the slums “one day when God was drunk … with a curse in her voice.” Maria is seduced by the rhythms of the tango and soon becomes “the most sorcerous singer and lover” in Buenos Aires. However, her “fatal passion” arouses the wrath of robbers and brothel madams who shoot her to death, and bury her in an unmarked grave. In death, Maria is pulled into a dreamlike Hell where she encounters the choral circus of psychoanalysts who dissect her to the core. She makes a resurrection of sorts when the Duende summons her to return as a Shadow, give birth to a new Maria, and haunt the sordid streets of Buenos Aires which she once walked.
Director John de los Santos talks about Maria de Buenos Aires:
Unlike most who contributed to the origins and development of the tango, Piazzolla came from a different background. He was a classically trained, refined musician and composer. Piazzolla undoubtedly made tango available to a wider audience and helped extend its boundaries, both stylistically and geographically. For that, he was equally admired and criticized, but it is almost universally recognized that Piazzolla’s style lent tango worldwide cultural legitimacy, even in what is known as the realm of “classical” music.
Besides being an extraordinarily talented composer, he was also an exceptional bandoneon player. Piazzolla drew from classical and contemporary sources as well as from the deep roots of tango, creating a powerful synthesis that propelled it from being in some regards a thing of the past to a contemporary language, reinvigorating the style.