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29-05-2009 - Opera Night

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"La Traviata" 

Opera at the British Embassy Residence 

A unique evening, of music, costumes, drinks and a light dinner was held on Friday May 29th 2009 at the British Embassy Residence, Gelly y Obes 2333, Recoleta, under the patronage of H.M. Ambassador Shan Morgan. 

The venue was a very special way of conceiving opera in a more intimate setting. Guests were taken back in time to a candle lit palace where the flickering light created an atmosphere of romance and ancient splendour. 

On arrival, guests were met by a group of beautiful young ladies in long dresses, who appeared to have stepped right out of the opera. These young ladies escorted guests to their seats as they explained the concept of the evening.  Champagne was served immediately.

Being immersed in an opera with magnificent voices and strong emotions was an entirely new experience for all those present. Reviving a tradition dating back to the late 1880’s, a piano and a small group of string instruments accompanied the beautiful voices. 

Each act of the opera took place in a different room of the Ambassador’s Residence. The spectators moved with the action. During the two hour experience the Ambassador’s Residence became the perfect setting, at the same time genuine and exceptional. Refreshments were served during each of the the intervals, when one had the chance to admire the elegant surroundings. 

The production followed the directions demanded by Giuseppe Verdi himself at the first performance of “La Traviata” at Teatro La Fenice in Venice in March 1853, over a century ago, when the opera’s bold realism caused outrage amongst his peers. Today it no longer causes outrage; instead it conjures up strong and lasting emotions which are intrinsically tied to Verdi’s magnificent and ever popular score. Justifiably, it is the most famous of all the Italian operas. 

In this production of Opera at the Residence, the singer’s voices were so intimate and close to the public that they magnified the true feelings and emotions that this opera conveys. 

We witnessed the innocent meeting of two star crossed lovers Violetta and Alfredo, and actively participated in their famous “brindisi”. We accompanied them to the idyllic setting of their flourishing romance, and were also present at the heart breaking moment when Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father, asked Violetta to give up his love for the good of his family. Then we witnessed Alfredo’s hurt and anger towards the innocent Violetta. And last of all we were present at her deathbed when the disgruntled lover realizes his mistake. But, as in the most famous of love stories, this realisation came too late, as we witnessed Violetta gasp her last breaths in Alfredo’s arms. 

The Opera was divided into three 30 minute acts, each of which took place in a different setting, and the audience moved with the performers. 

Peter Macfarlane gave an introduction before each Act, explaining the background of what  would be seen and heard onstage.

Laura Penchi as Violeta was an outstanding performer with a superb voice.  Mirko Thomas came accross as a exceptional Alfredo and Ernest Bauer as Giorgio and Victoria Aldasoro as Annina also put on remarkeable performances with beautiful voices which thrilled the audience.  A really magical experience! 

In closing, ABCC Chairman Francis Fernie thanked HM Ambassador Ms. Shan Morgan, and Ms. Lucy Duncan New Zealand Ambassador for their presence at the show, and then thanked the sponsors, the players, the actresses, everybody involved in the production, especially Peter Macfarlana and Georgina Ros Artayeta and "The Commanding Officer", Mrs. Terry Chapman.  In closing he expressed a very special "Thank you!" to HM Ambassador Shan Morgan for allowing the ABCC the use of the Residence for this charitable production.  

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Director Peter McFarlane & Ros Artayeta Productions staged this magical production of "La Traviata" for the ABCC. 

Peter is a well known director of musicals. He trained in England at Roehampton, Digby Stuart and Warwick University, before studying and working in the USA. At present, as well as teaching, he is Director of the Walt Disney Studio for Latin America. 

The objective of the evening was to raise funds for the ABCC, a charity created by the British Community in 1939. The ABCC provides vital assistance to many good causes: BABS, the community's home for senior citizens, needy patients at the British Hospital, and straightforward financial help to those in need. 

We would like to thank Mrs. Mariela Sieburger of the Garden Club Argentina for the two spectacular pedestal flower arrangements, and for the posy bouquets for Laura Penchi and Victoria Aldasoro, The Teatro Color for the loan of the beautiful costumes, and the various companies and individuals who most generously assisted us in the production of "La Traviata" with financial support and other contributions.