HUGO DE ANA. The bad fumes that rise from the Regietheater accumulate in our, by now, quite polluted opera sky. Although, due to the plague of locusts, we can’t expect any actual rain of Regietrash for the time being, and we can comfortably fastforward the streams from aria to aria (give us such an opportunity in the opera hall!), the opera performances will eventually take place in a real opera theatre again.
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A reviewer of Opera Gazet, who in addition to his reviews for OG runs an internationally successful Facebook page “Against Modern Opera Productions”, suggested that the 32 million opera streams per day could have a beneficial effect. After all, the “new audience”, which has never seen an opera that is loyal to the libretto, can now marvel at productions by Franco Zeffirelli, Otto Schenk e tutti quanti. Of course, the administrator of this page was immediately attacked: he did not show respect for the victims of the plague of locusts, while he had done nothing but give a striking example that there is a kind of advantage in any disadvantage. Yes, friends, every now and then there is a glimmer of hope in the horizon. In the previous chapters of our series The Non-Blatherskites we already highlighted the blessed work of directors Laurence Dale and Otto Schenk. Today, we wanted to introduce you to, or renew the acquaintance with, director Hugo De Ana, born in 1949 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Tosca. With Vittori Grigolo and Ambrogio Maestri
De Ana was leader of the famous Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, where he directed Puccini’s Turandot, Massenets Werther, Verdi’s Don Carlo, Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.
In 1984 he started a long lasting collaboration with the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid and the Opera del Liceu in Barcelona, where he directed Armide by Christoph Willibald Gluck, Andrea Chénier by Giordano, Die Walküre by Wagner, La Bohème by Puccini, Ermione by Rossini and Otello by Verdi. After 1988, he spread his wings to major European opera houses in Italy, England and Germany. His Les contes d’Hoffmann was a huge success in Genoa and Lille. His debut in Italy came with the staging of two Rossini operas: Mosè in Egitto in Bologna and Ermione in Rome, both in 1990. In 1996 he opened the season of the Rome Opera with Iris (Mascagni), and in the 1997/98 season he made his debut at the Teatro alla Scala with Lucrezia Borgia. In 1998 he made a magnificent Aïda for the Teatro Real Madrid and he directed Le Cid (Massenet) in Sevilla. Obviously, a very successful director worldwide; yet there is a good chance that many an opera lover has never heard of Hugo De Ana. How could that be?
What makes Hugo de Ana so unique in today’s world of opera? First of all, the fact that he doesn’t go along with the idiocies of so-called “groundbreaking, urgent and desorientating music theatre”. The Ana’s in-depth approach of opera produces theatrical images that are as imposing as they are meaningful, full of metaphors and symbols. In his Tosca in Verona we saw a symbolic representation of Rome, intensified by elegant and majestic costumes from the Napoleonic era. The Castel Sant’Angelo, the Sant’Andrea della Valle in which the impressive Te Deum takes place, the spacious Palazzo Farnese, the distant sound of the church bells and the shepherd’s song, the trenches with cannons, they are all there. Italian critics described the production as “an opera to listen to with your eyes”. (In today’s Regietrash we are more familiar with operas to listen to with your eyes closed). The Tosca of De Ana is a thriller that mixes religion and politics, passions and perversions. In a sublime way, roughly opposite to the Hercule-Poirot Tosca of the Dutch Reisopera in 2018, directed by Harry Fehr.
Hui He, one of the major opera stars of the moment, said in an interview: “I love Hugo de Ana, a wonderful director with whom I have worked in many amazing productions”.
Of course, opera singers also prefer to work with Non-Blatherskites rather than egocentric pseudo-intellectuals. And Hugo de Ana is a Non-Blatherskite in heart and soul.