– The Spanish soprano will start her year at La Monnaie with two of the most complex operas of the 20th century in a double programme: Il Prigioniero, by Dallapiccola, and Das Gehege, by Rihm
A multi-faceted artist with a grounded character, the soprano Ángeles Blancas is motivated by difficult challenges. Proof of this is having taken on, in recent years, some of the most complex masterpieces of the 20th century. Central European repertoire has been present in her career over the last few seasons, which is rather unusual for a southern European singer. Blancas is now increasingly sought after on the international arena to perform operas by composers such as Janáček (her Kostelnička in Jenůfa at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo was breath-taking) as well as others by Richard Strauss and even Richard Wagner, composers who are among her favourites from among her repertoire. Now it is time for two heavyweights of contemporary music which she will take on in a double programme at La Monnaie in Brussels. Il Prigioniero, by the Italian Luigi Dallapiccola, and Das Gehege, by the German Wolfgang Rihm. These operas are extremely demanding and are programmed in the same session, with Ángeles Blancas taking the lead roles on the 16th, 18th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, 25th and 27th January 2018. “I have shut myself away–literally– for weeks in order to absorb technique for both operas organically, since they are both extremely difficult musically and rhythmically as well as vocally,” the singer explains. In the opera by Dallapiccola, one of the first Italian composers to embrace twelve-tone technique, the soprano will take the role of the Mother. It is a one act opera which is intensely dramatic, and set in a prison in Zaragoza during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. It premiered in 1949, and did not appear in Spain until 2010; Blancas made her debut in the role in 2014, conducted by Antonio Pappano.
In the second half of the evening there will be a performance of Das Gehege, (1952), by Rhim, a key composer on the European musical scene. “With this opera I have discoverd that my limits were further away than I thought,” explains the singer. “My character, Anita, is intimidatingly complex, and taking on the role has been a trial by fire. It is very demanding in all ways – musically and dramatically – as all the weight of the opera falls on this character, there are no other roles that can allow you time to take a breath – and for this reason I am passionate and excited about the part,” she concludes.
At La Monnaie Ángeles Blancas wil be conducted by Franck Ollu in both operas, in a production directed by Andrea Breth, who for Blancas is “a director who is extremely meticulous, her methods are very elaborate and carefully constructed, giving meaning to every detail. Her vision of Das Gehege is extremely interesting. The psychology of the character has great contrasts and Breth accentuates both her dramatic and comic sides. In the story, Anita frees an eagle from its cage before killing it, leading Breth to take her inspiration from Une semaine de bonté, a series of very powerful drawings by Marx Ernst, who was a key artist in the Dadaist and surrealist movements. In any case, both operas form a diptych that explores the complex and ambivalent relationship between a victim and his executioner, which is currently an extremely relevant theme.” These operas are being co-produced by the La Monnaie and Stuttgart Opera, where various performances of this diptych will take place in the spring, also with Ángeles Blancas in the lead roles.