L’ombre de Venceslao

L’ombre de Venceslao © Laurent Guizard

A picaresque and joyfully desperate story.

After Le Voyage à Reims and Les Caprices de Marianne, the Centre Français de Promotion Lyrique embarks on a new creation L’Ombre de Venceslao. This is the first opera by Martin Matalan, a composer passionate about musical theatre as well as cinema, having written music for the silent movies of Luis Buñuel and Fritz Lang.  The piece is based on a work with the same title by the brilliant Argentinian playwright Copi (1939-1987) adapted by fellow Argentinian Jorge Lavelli, based in Paris. In this production, we find all the typical verve of the writer, with his amusing caustic humour and his darker side too.

The intrigue is based around a family story and the wanderings in a very poor Argentina by Venceslao, a sort of ludicrous modern-day Don Quixote, a couple of young incestuous lovers attracted by the charm of Buenos Aires, a pimp, an impolite parrot and a monkey with a strong personality. All in all, an incredible fresco, comprising of a handful of characters desperately trying to find happiness, lost in the difficult conditions of a hostile environment and adverse conditions of a city under a coup d’état.

After having produced many pieces by Copi, here Jorge Lavelli is here working on foreign ground. He translated from Spanish L’Ombre de Venceslao (1977) which was then adapted to the stage in Paris in 1999. He went on to write the opera libretto that was staged with striking images and admirably conveyed the modern and picaresque aspect of the story.

Stormy and tempestuous, Martin Matalón’s musical score oozes dampness, sensuality and death. The composer has subtly overcome the difficulties of putting the text to music by varying the vocal expression and a young, dynamic and cosmopolitan cast who prove to be a real tour de force.

Length 90 minuts without intermission / Performance in French with English subtitles