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The musician and composer Lorin Maazel is to become the honorary director of the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana (OCV) in recognition of his responsibility in the creation and the work he has done with for five years at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía .

The Franco-American director has accepted this honorary position, proposed by Francisco Camps, President of the Generalitat, who on Monday 07 March 2011 bestowed on him the Gran Cruz de Honor Jaume I El Conqueridor (Grand Cross of Honor Jaume I The Conqueridor). Camps explained that the position of director fees will help the Orquestra de la Comunitat "to always travel the world bearing the name of Lorin Maazel at its head. "

Maazel expressed his "emotion" to an appointment that "gets to the heart" and said he leaves the city and the musical direction of the OCV "with a feeling of full satisfaction."

The octogenarian musician's final act as Director of the Palau was to conduct his opera 1984 over several performances, the last of which was on Sunday 06 March. Miles Roddis and Tim Birch were at the penultimate performance on Friday 5th March.

An opera by Lorin Maazel
Libretto by J. D. McClatchy and Thomas Meehan

Palau de les Arts February-March 2011

This haunting production is a reprise of the original 2005 London Royal Opera House production with the same evocative sets and mise en scène.

Airstrip One – as the London of the future is called – is a bleak dystopian place, a totalitarian state that demands absolute loyalty. But beneath the oppression, a tender, tragic love story (how conventionally operatic) unfolds as the two protagonists fleetingly come together in a world where love, like all positive emotion, is banned, persecuted and, ultimately, erased.

1984, based upon the bleak novel by George Orwell, is a fitting valedictory to Lorin Maazel, musical director of the Palau de les Arts, as he approaches the end of his tenure. His score, a rich patchwork of styles and pastiches, ranges from sentimental ballad to atonal yelps and cries and both supports and mirrors the on-stage drama

But more than the music, the opera stands by its staging and quite brilliant libretto, sung in the original English.

Between them, the poet J. D. McClatchy and Thomas Meehan (who, among multiple other credits, wrote the book for the musicals Annie and The Producers) have produced a a libretto that’s by turn tender, brutal, droll and threatening.

The rotating set, where beige, brown and black predominate, is the vision of Canadians, director Robert Lepage and set designer, Carl Fillion. Amid the technological paraphernalia of oppression (hidden cameras, loudspeakers and flickering monitor screens), the image of Big Brother (looking incongruously like an out-of-sorts Pep Guardiola) glowers down.

Winston Smith, the alienated functionary, is sung by baritone Michael Anthony McGee, with his rich vocal range and capacity to project pathos (strapped to a brutish torture machine designed to ‘cleanse’ his mind, he sings his agonising best). Fellow American Nancy Gustafson as Julia is the other half of their brief, tender, doomed relationship. Tenor Richard Margison plays Winston, loyal member of the Thought Police and agent provocateur. Last but far from least, local artiste Silvia Vázquez makes rich, brief welcome comic relief as a strutting Fascist Gym Instructress and a flirting drunk who makes lurching overtures to Winston in the cell they share.

©2011Roddis / Birch



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