Saturday, August 18, 2018

Luis Alejandro Orozco reprising El Payador at Arizona Opera

Luis Alejandro Orozco as El Payador (Photo right: C. Stanley)
Barihunk Luis Alejandro Orozco will be reprising the role of El Payador (the gaucho minstrel) in Astor Piazzolla's tango infused opera Maria de Buenos Aires at the Arizona Opera. Orozco will be joining forces with director John de los Santos, both of whom have become closely associated with this opera. Orozco has performed the lead role in Lexington, Miami, New Orleans, Fort Worth, Mill City Summer Opera and Nashville.

Performance in Phoenix will be on September 28, 29 and 30, with additional performances in Tucson on October 6 and 7. Tickets are available online.

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.

The opera has become popular in Germany, where is has been performed in apparently every city that starts with the letter "B": Berlin, Bonn, Braunschweig, Biel, Bremen and coming to Bremerhaven in April 2019.

A clip of Luis Alejandro Orozco as El Payador:

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.

Luis Alejandro Orozco and Catalina Cuervo (Photo: Jeff Roffman)
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. 

Luis Alejandro Orozco was born in El Paso Texas, but raised in Juarez, Mexico for most of his life. He has performed with such companies as Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, El Paso Opera and the Seoul International Opera Festival in South Korea.

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