KUNM Regular Programming

The Tango Master's Opera

Feb 8, 2019

For a while in the 1960s, Argentine tango master Astor Piazzolla abandoned his usual concert halls and nightclubs to create something instead for the opera house.  Maria de Buenos Aires is a surreal vision in song and dance of the underside of Argentina's cosmopolitan capitol.  Opera Southwest presents Piazzolla's only opera, or operita as he called it, February 17-24 at Albuquerque's National Hispanic Cultural Center.  OSW's Artistic Director, conductor Anthony Barrese, joined us to talk about it.

Piazzolla took the tango and opened it up to other musical genres, and Maria de Buenos Aires is a great example.  "There's tango, jazz, there's classical music in it," says Baresse.  "It's a real mixture of musical styles."  What drew OSW, which usually dwells in the world of Italian opera -- Puccini and Rossini in particular -- to this Argentine tango opera?  "Since we're in the National Hispanic Cultural Center, since half of our population speaks Spanish, we have made a committment to present an opera in Spanish every year, an opera written in Spanish not just a translation.   And this is one of the most performed works in opera houses in Spanish."

In this more complete version of the interview, Barrese discusses how Piazzolla's operita differs, structurally and musically, from other operas.