Laurent Pelly's Viva la Mamma. Photo: Javier del Real/Teatro Real (detail) View full image

Laurent Pelly directs Viva la Mamma

Donizetti's Viva la Mamma has opened at Madrid's Teatro Real, directed by Laurent Pelly, who also designed costumes with Jean-Jacques Delmotte. The opera buffa, given its premiere in Milan in 1831, is a satire on opera and opera singers, with the theatre turned into a stage within a stage.

El Pais reviewed the production saying: 'The French director, gifted at squeezing the juice and distilling the best essences of a comedy, achieves a perfect and agile interaction between the characters, caricaturing what is essential... with nods to the aesthetics and movements of musicals from Hollywood with related plots (42nd Street, Singin' n the rain, Kiss me, Kate, A Chorus Line) that allow us to also peek into the ins and outs of a show. It is the inevitable clash of the opposing interests of the different characters, united in the same boat, but rowing in different directions, the main source of comedy, supported in turn by stereotypes that surprisingly resemble reality and that have existed before, during and after the Donizetti era. Finally, Pelly resorts not only to stage humour, but also to strictly musical humour, embodied in numerous details that should not go unnoticed, such as the wise use of the piano as an occasional substitute for the orchestra or the singers' own interpretive fancies, perfectly planned by him.'

La Razón wrote: 'Laurent Pelly's production is elegant — especially in the second half — and avoids acting, focusing on the ultimate meaning of any comedy: the X-ray of what human beings strive to sweep under the rug – miseries and insecurities. A certain nostalgia for an earlier time is translated into the first act, where the theatre is derelict, an inhabited ruin from the past cornered in a parking lot. The second half is almost a mirror image, and the theatre becomes almost a reflection of itself on stage, with half an Italian floor theatre, chandeliers and red carpet... Under the charade, the message remains: when the company decides to leave the theatre, it falls apart. Although the production works well aesthetically, the most remarkable thing is its careful direction of actors. In fact, the libretto by Domenico Gilardoni plays on the spiral of nonsense and its success is much higher than it seems in the comic capacity and corporal humour that the protagonists are capable of summoning. Or, put another way, the script is not so funny. But Pelly works conscientiously on this aspect so that no ensemble movement is gratuitous or anodyne.

El Asombrario said of Pelly: 'His direction of actors is superb, with histrionics tailored to each of the characters that makes easy humour, almost like a magazine, flow like a calm and singing river in which the viewers refresh themselves, with 2 hours 15 minutes literally flying by.

The final performance of the opera is on 13 June and will be broadcast to Spanish viewers through My Opera Player.

Laurent Pelly on Viva la Mamma

Viva la Mamma trailer