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Tango Pulses Through San Diego Opera's 'Maria De Buenos Aires'

New dētour series production is already close to sold out

San Diego Opera's 'Maria de Buenos Aires Moves To A Tango Beat

San Diego Opera’s second dētour production of the season, "Maria de Buenos Aires," is almost sold out for its four-performance run.

San Diego Opera’s dētour series strives to showcase works like this that fall outside of traditional grand opera. General Director David Bennett is thrilled that audiences are proving adventuresome and supporting shows like "Maria de Buenos Aires." The show’s success is evidence that they’re embracing the series’ emphasis on discovery.

Tango pulses through Maria de Buenos Aires…


CLIP music and dance

DAVID BENNETT: There’s quite a bit of dance in this show and tango is really sort of the spirit of the opera and the music is infused with what we know of as tango music…

While this is indeed an opera complete with arias it’s also an opera that makes audiences rethink exactly what that means. And that’s the whole point of the detour series says San Diego Opera general director David Bennett.

DAVID BENNETT: I think it says that we have a very adventurous audience that are starting to understand the brand of the series is about discovery. They don’t exactly know what they are going to see but they know they are going to enjoy it.

Part of the appeal of Maria De Buenos Aires is that it’s done in the intimate space of the Lyceum’s 500 seat theater. Director John De los Santos says that puts you right next to the action.


DAVID BENNETT: One of the reasons we liked this venue was that we could feature the orchestra and have it prominent rather than in a pit or sort of behind the performers

JOHN DE LOS SANTOS: So the intimacy and the passion of the piece suck you in if you are that close to it.

JOHN DE LOS SANTOS: People can expect surreal poetry, they can expect a lot of dance, a lot of bandeleon playing and an orchestra on stage. And dancers, opera singers and actors all together in a really cool mix of Argentine energy.

Having the musicians onstage was key.

JOHN DE LOS SANTOS: Frankly the work they are doing is so interesting and full of great energy that we thought it was another great scenic element.

The story follows a woman named Maria who moves through the slums and underbelly of Buenos Aires.

CLIP gambling/prostitution

DAVID BENNETT: It’s based on poetry by Ferer who was a surrealist poet, the lyrics are based on that so it creates a text world that’s surreal but very beautiful, full of metaphor.

JOHN DE LOS SANTOS: I think this is a piece where the plot so much of the plot is taken from the symbols and the poetry so everyone’s experience of what they take away from this and what it means to them will be different to each person.

But it all plays out to the rhythms of tango.

JOHN DE LOS SANTOS: What’s great is that there are different kinds of tangoes some that express great longing, some express desires, some that express sadness or fear so the tangoes in this piece are there’s a lot of variety.

And some are a vertical expression of a horizontal desire as tango has famously been described.

DAVID BENNETT: Yes desire is definitely a theme in this. So there is a sense of sensuality and some sexuality.

Maria de Buenos Aires epitomizes the mission of San Diego Opera’s detour series, which is to showcase work that falls outside of traditional opera.

JOHN DE LOS SANTOS: My hope is that people will come away thinking they have seen something new that they have never seen in the opera house before or in the theater before because it’s a great conglomeration of all of these wonderful talented people, so if you are not into opera maybe you’ll love tango or the dance or the poetry there’s something for everyone and hopefully they will walk away appreciating other elements of it.

DAVID BENNETT: I hope they take away that there is a great breathe of expression inside of the word opera that they don’t know about, I hope they are going to begin to see that’s what we are exploring in detour and that they’ll want to see more of it.

If the response to Maria de Buenos Aires is any indication, then the answer is a resounding yes.

Tango Pulses Through San Diego Opera's 'Maria De Buenos Aires'
San Diego Opera’s second dētour production of the season, "Maria de Buenos Aires," is almost sold out for its four-performance run. Here's why this tango opera is generating so much interest.