Opera under the Sand: Captivating World Première of Sotelo's El PúblicoBy Fernando Remiro, 27 February 2015
Five years ago, Gerard Mortier told Spanish composer Mauricio Sotelo that as much as he loved Lorca's surrealist play El Público, he did not quite understand it. He thought music might shed some light on its obscure meaning and suggested that an opera might give the play its utmost artistic form. After a laborious creative process, Tuesday's world première proved Mortier right and offered a colossal version of Lorca's masterpiece, while giving birth to one of the best operas of the new century.
........ Mauricio Sotelo's score is a brilliantly implausible integration of spectral music and flamenco. The transition between musical languages is surprisingly smooth and flamenco music, a language mastered by Sotelo, coils seductively around the harmonic architecture, giving the impression of a musical continuum. He uses a chamber orchestra (the unmatched Klangforum Wien conducted by Pablo Heras Casado, who proved once again being among the best conductors of his generation), formed by 34 instruments and led by a Spanish guitar, whose sounds spread through the hall thanks to a system of loudspeakers that create a three-dimensional surround effect. Melody is constantly torn down by pure, primeval rhythm, marked by the hooves of the third horse (superbly played by bailaor Rubén Olmo) and impressive percussionist Agustín Diassera. Rather than an opera, Mauricio Sotelo has written the score of an ancient ritual, lost in the dreamy mists of surrealism but redolent of something older and darker.
...... Alexander Polzin's set design was incredibly simple but had a mesmerising iconic strength, offering some of the best moments of the night: the transparent mirrors in the fourth scene, a well-known but extraordinarily used effect; and the bare stage of the fifth scene.
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