Acclaimed Tango Opera 'Maria de Buenos Aires' Closing Performance This Saturday

When María de Buenos Aires first premiered in the Argentine capital, it was eight years removed from the military coup of 1976 that would later usher in a new era of savage state repression deemed the “Dirty War” by the U.S.-backed ruling junta. The classic tango operita by legendary musician Ástor Piazzolla and poet Horacio Ferrer, however, has been re-imagined to coincide with that historical period as it opened Long Beach Opera's 2012 season last weekend to critical praise. The Los Angeles Times called the longstanding professional opera company's staging of María de Buenos Aires “stunning” and a “70-minute tour de force.”


Helping to inspire the words of the reviewer was the performance of the cast. Peabody Southwell plays the part of María, Gregorio Gonzalez, her young lover, Mark Bringelson, her torturer. Acclaimed art lecturer Gregorio Luke makes his acting debut taking on a spoken role as el duende, her lover, now aged, who survives the chambers of torture and provides the narrative of the life of María through her childhood, their love, his arrest, and her death at the hands of the military junta as she tries to rescue him. Luke is quick to give highest credit to Long Beach Opera's General and Artistic Director Andreas Mitisek who he says has for the first time utilized opera to denounce the history of military dictatorships in Latin America.

“Piazzolla's María is the ultimate metaphor for the heart and soul of Argentina and, for me, also a metaphor for love, hope, fear and resilience. In our production, María falls victim to the 'Dirty War,' but she is reborn in the protests of the thousands of 'Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo' whose children 'disappeared,” Mitisek told the Santa Monica Dispatch in a recent article. “It is a paradox that those who were treated the harshest by the dictators remained the strongest. It was these mothers and others like them whose fight for justice eventually brought the military to its knees.”

The 'disappeared' — or desaparecidos — was the military junta's sordid contribution to the lexicon of terror and a fate wrought upon some 30,000 people in Argentina. María de Buenos Aires is an artistic form of remembrance as resistance for ensemble and audience alike.

Long Beach Opera presents María de Buenos Aires at the Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro,; (562) 432-5934. Sat. 8 p.m. $29-$150. Note: production features full frontal nudity and depictions of violence and is not appropriate for children.

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