Beczala, Yoncheva, Pirozzi, Blanch... and Yuja Wang in Peralada

That the capacity continues to be reduced for yet another summer does not mean that the Castell de Peralada Festival will give up programming big names in lyrical and classical music: Piotr Beczala opens the 38th edition with a recital on July 19 and Yuja Wang will close it on August 11.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
14 May 2024 Tuesday 05:19
4 Reads
Beczala, Yoncheva, Pirozzi, Blanch... and Yuja Wang in Peralada

That the capacity continues to be reduced for yet another summer does not mean that the Castell de Peralada Festival will give up programming big names in lyrical and classical music: Piotr Beczala opens the 38th edition with a recital on July 19 and Yuja Wang will close it on August 11. The Polish tenor and the Chinese pianist are just two of the great figures who will perform this year in petit committee for the reduced capacity of the Carmen church. The sopranos Anna Pirozzi, Sonya Yoncheva and Sara Blanch will also perform, and Jordi Savall or the young and extraordinary South Korean pianist Yunchan Lim will play, who had to cancel his debut in the last edition of Pascua de Peralada due to health problems.

All of these performances are a gift for lovers of the event, who will enjoy an unusual closeness during this time when the project for a new open-air auditorium is being carried out in the castle gardens, just as the children of who was the founder and promoter of the festival, Carmen Mateu. When this work will be ready is not a question that has an answer at the moment, since there have been variables that have forced its execution to be delayed. “As soon as we can announce details, we will do so. We are advancing not at high speed but in walking mode, but we hope that in a few months we will be able to share the status of the building and the deadlines for its construction," said Oriol Aguilà, artistic director of the event, during the presentation this Tuesday at the Reial Cercle. Artistic, in Barcelona.

Thus, Peralada is equipped with brilliant artists who perform as soloists or in chamber format. Beczala will show off her Slavic blood and offer a repertoire that is unknown to her and that is based especially on songs by Tchaikovsky, although the second part will be dedicated to opera arias, from Moniuszko and Dvorak to Verdi or Puccini. Yoncheva, for her part, Bulgarian star of Covent Garden and the Met in New York, will form a tandem (7/26) with the Jerez tenor Ismael Jordi (Opera XXI award) singing in an unusual way a zarzuela repertoire, “something that we like promote among international actors,” Aguilà pointed out.

More operatic will be the Neapolitan Anna Pirozzi (7/27), one of the great voices of today's Italian opera who in her second appearance in Peralada will be accompanied by an ensemble to perform her favorite roles: from Anna Bolena to Norma, passing by Adriana Lecouvreur or Leonora, from La forza del destiny.

And already in August it will be the Catalan soprano Sara Blanch, a notable bel canto voice who debuts at La Scala in September, who will travel to Pesaro with Rossini and pay tribute to the composer together with the baritone Paolo Bordogna, considered one of the best buffi of your generation (5/8).

The church will also host Jordi Savall's concert with Hespèrion XXI focusing on Renaissance composers and musicians of the Elizabethan era. The Golden Age of English Music compiles ancient and distant music by John Dowland, Christopher Tye and William Byrd, in the solo voices of soprano Elionor Martínez and countertenor William Shelton (7/30).

And the next day it will be Schubert's turn, with Julien Prégardien (son of the famous tenor Christoph Prégadien) in the cycle of The Beautiful Miller, although the artist Francesc Torrent will transform the lyrics of the 20 songs into a diary that allows one to delve into one's thoughts. of the young protagonist, in love and also prey to jealousy and despair.

This experience, which has the special participation of actress Maria Molins, will take place between the winery and the church, and will be accompanied by a wine pairing and a tasting of gastronomic products. Prégardien will be accompanied by piano in the Carme and guitar in the celler. Like the concert by the Kebyart, the Catalan saxophone quartet, which on August 4 in the church will perform adaptations of works by Rameau, Bach and Ravel, and in the winery they will contrast Rameau with two of Jörg Widmann's 7 Capricci, a piece commissioned by the Palau de la Música for the Kebyarts. But above all they are excited to premiere a commission by Peralada that already has a guaranteed European tour: it is a fantasy that Marco Mezquida has created about Ravel's work that opens the concert, Tombeau de Couperin, which was already a new look at dances. of the French baroque.

In the dance section, Carlos Acosta's company returns to Peralada and will show three pieces at the Mirador del Castell that have not been seen at the festival: a collaboration with the Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg, created for the occasion based on a rumbera score by Leo Brouwer; a sexy duet by Rafael Bonachela, and finally that Cuban syncretism that mixes contemporary vocabulary and African traditions of the Yorubas (a people in the southwest of Nigeria) by the Cubans Norge Cedeño and Thais Suárez (7/26 and 27).

At the same time, there will be an evening of dance directed by Aleix Martínez, principal dancer of the Hamburg Ballet, and in which eleven Catalan dancers with international careers participate, such as Martí Paixà, principal of the Stuttgart Ballet who has been seen on several occasions at the Liceu IBStage Galas, or the choreographer, assistant and dancer of La Veronal, Lorena Nogal, as well as the figure of the National Ballet of Spain Albert Hernández. Aleix Martínez will also show a small treasure such as the latest creations made for him by John Neumeier himself, the American choreographer who retired last year at the age of 85 after directing the Hamburg company for half a century.

As for newly created opera, Peralada makes use of the commission that he made in his day, together with the Liceu, the Real and the Maestranza of Seville, to the composer Helena Cánovas, Carmen Mateu European Award for Young Artists. The artist from Tona, who turns thirty this year, has composed a chamber work titled Don Juan No Exist, halfway between documentary and fiction, since the libretto by Alberto Iglesias is about a writer, playwright, feminist and countess from the beginning of 20th century, Carmen Díaz de Mendoza Aguado, known as the Countess of San Luis (Murcia, 1864-Madrid, 1929), who after attending a performance of Don Giovanni decided to write her own Don Juan.

A century later, another creator will try to complete what happened to that countess of whom history barely remembers. In fact, not a single line of her work survives, although there are many press clippings that attest to her feat and the critical failure she received. The plot is still a reflection of the research work that Cánovas herself has carried out.

“She is one of the founders of the feminist high school in Madrid in the 1920s. She was very devoutly religious as well as a pacifist and advisor to the first dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, something that at that time was not so strange,” the composer points out. “What we have done is invent two characters who come with her to this performance and comment on the play,” she adds. Cánovas has been working remotely for the last year and a half with Bárbara Lluch, who is in charge of the stage set-up.

"What is known is that the countess assured that 'Don Juan loses his value when the woman does not pay attention to him.' And we have wanted to articulate that discourse that emerges in a reactionary way. It is still paradoxical that we have not had to invent the text that she wrote and of which there are criticisms and chronicles," added the artist who claims the recovery of "so many creative women that we have covered up as a society."

Soprano Natalia Labourdette stars in this piece, which features the Cosmos Quartet, a bag and percussion, with musical direction by Jhoanna Sierralta. It is not done in a theater but in a special room, with a different arrangement of six music and live electronics combined with beautiful vocal lyricism. This absolute premiere will take place at the Mirador on August 8.

It is not the only commitment to young talents in contemporary composition: on August 7 there will be a Cor de Cambra del Palau concert in the church that revolves around some choral work by Helena Cánovas herself and that opens to creations by her contemporaries . “We have only chosen composers under 40 years of age from Països Catalans. We find this work by Helena that reimagines a madrigal by Monteverdi, from which other creators join in who take the classics and reimagine them, such as Joan Magrané. And we commission Aurora Bauzà and Anna Campmany,” explained musical director Júlia Sesé, who has achieved parity between the sexes.

And finally, on the first Saturday of the festival, Pasión Vega will sing, a program that brings together songs from films by Pedro Almodóvar, author of the poster for this 38th edition, such as In the last drink by Chavela Vargas, Encadenados by Lucho Gatica, Volver by Estrella Morente, Maybe, maybe, maybe by Sara Montiel or Cucurrucucu Paloma by Caetano Veloso. Joan Anton Rechi, artistic director of ClassicAnd, takes on the staging of the unique proposal that will later be seen at the Andorran festival.

"It is a sentimental journey around Almodóvar's films, in which the songs are always an important element," says Rechi. "Pasión Vega was that artist who brings a personal stamp to everything she does and who in this case had that air of Spanish song combined with the arrangements of the musical director Moisés P. Sánchez. And we added a small dramaturgy in a unique stage space, as a tribute to the director from La Mancha.

The budget for the entire annual activity amounts to 2.2 million euros, the organization reports.