Ópera de Tenerife opens season with María Moliner, which celebrates the Spanish lexicographer
This first title, composed by Antoni Parera Fons and premiered in 2016, will have the mezzo-soprano María José Montiel as the lead character
The Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín opens its lyric season next week. Ópera de Tenerife opens the season 2023-2024 with María Moliner, which will take place on 17, 19, and 21 October at 7:30 p.m. in the Symphonic Hall. The details were announced by the provincial Minister for Culture of the Island Council of Tenerife, José Carlos Acha, the artistic director of the Auditorio, José Luis Rivero, the composer of the opera, Antoni Parera Fons, the musical director of the show, Victor Pablo Pérez, the stage director and stage designer, Paco Azorin, and the star who plays María Moliner, the mezzo-soprano María José Montiel.
José Carlos Acha stated that “it is an honour to present an opera of these characteristics, aware that there is a great artistic, technical, and management team behind it”. “Talking about María Moliner is a source of personal gratification because I remember how much we were recommended as children at school to use this dictionary” recalls the minister. “What this woman did was amazing work, ahead of her time, and this show is a great opportunity to enjoy a live opera and also discover the story of this extraordinary person” he stated.
José Luis Rivero announced that “we are happy to start the season of the 20th Anniversary with this title”. “When we decided to open the seasons of Opera de Tenerife with a contemporary title in Spanish, we didn’t know where it might lead us, but we assumed the risks and we have learned that opera is the language that best communicates with society” reflects the cultural programmer. “María Moliner was an intellectual woman in an age of barbaric men and this opera is a real gem in contemporary music in Spain” declared Rivero.
Antoni Parera Fons recalled the story of how this opera started with the proposal that Paco Azorín made to him, as well as the hard work involved in this opera which had María José Montiel in mind from the outset. The maestro admitted that back then “I wondered how I could write an aria without the lead female character going through heartbreak or a love triangle, which are the common themes of great arias, but not here. In this case, she wants to create a dictionary.” “It is very gratifying to go through the entire process, from the peacefulness of being at home with a piece of paper and pencil to heading into theatres and seeing the enthusiasm of the teams to make the shows happen” shared the composer.
Víctor Pablo Pérez, honorary director of the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra and musical director of this opera, stated that “we are faced with a work that is becoming a classic, this is already the fourth time that it has been staged in a theatre.” With regard to the commitment by the Ópera de Tenerife, he envisaged that “committing to these types of titles will ultimately distinguish this institution.” Lastly, the orchestra conductor guaranteed that the public “will be amazed at a work of enormous value.”
Paco Azorín, the developer of this opera, stated “We are talking about one of the most fascinating and representative examples of a woman in the Spanish 20th century.” The stage director stated that Moliner lived between two words, destiny, which was to create her dictionary, and exile, which refers to the inner exile she suffered after the Civil War. “Therefore, she decided to put a brave face on things” states Azorín who recalls that “Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (DRAE) was produced by 46 people over two centuries and María Moliner did it alone over 15 years and it also was, even according to Gabriel García Márquez, the most complete, useful and fun dictionary of the Spanish language, more than twice the length of that of the Academy.” “This documentary opera features live projections of manuscripts and documents which attest to what the opera talks about” he announced.
For María José Montiel “this character is a privilege in my career”. “It is a work of art in every sense, with beautiful impressionistic music” declares the singer. For Montiel, this work “is the story of a heroine with a life of love, of determination… a true story”. The mezzo-soprano addressed the public to insist that “they come to see this work of art, an extraordinary production that is unique worldwide, that gets you hooked from the outset.”
María Moliner is a production by the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid, premiered in 2016, and has also been staged in Oviedo and Mallorca. It is an opera in two acts and ten scenes with a libretto by Lucía Vilanova which recounts the life of María Moliner, a lexicographer who achieved the feat of single-handedly producing a dictionary at home whose substance showed up in the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, a publication that this show pays tribute to.
The show reveals how María Moliner tirelessly wrote the definitions for her Diccionario de uso del español (1966) on her Olivetti Pluma 22 and shows the adversity she had to fight until she managed to edit it and publish it, after overcoming the obstacles of being a woman.
Azorín’s team, which has already been working for weeks at the Auditorium of Tenerife, is completed by Carlos Martos in charge of stage movement and choreography, Pedro Yagüe on lighting, Pedro Chamizo on audiovisual design and Juan Sebastián Domínguez on costume changes, the costumes were designed by María Araujo, who passed away a little over three years ago.
Víctor Pablo Pérez will conduct the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, which will be accompanied by the voices of the Opera of Tenerife-Intermezzo Resident Choir. In addition to Montiel as María Moliner, the baritone Juan Jesús Rodríguez from Huelva will play the husband of the writer, the academic Fernando Ramón y Ferrando. The soprano Anna Cabrera will sing the roles of the inspector from the Spanish University Union (SEU) and Carmen Conde and the baritone Pablo Gálvez from Granada will play the linotypist Goyanes.
In addition, Tenerife-born Candelaria González will play Emilia Pardo Bazán, while Gran Canarian mezzo-sopranos Silvia Zorita and Blanca Valido will be Isidra Guzmán y de la Cerda and Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, respectively. The cast is completed by the bass-baritone Simón Orfila as the sought-after seat B of the RAE (Royal Spanish Academy), the tenor Joan Laínez as Almanaque I, the baritone César Méndez as Almanaque II and the bass-baritone Abraham García as Almanaque III.
On the other hand, this production has an extensive cast of actresses and actors from the islands: María Salazar, Romina R. Medina, Cristina Hernández, Elisa Cano, Melany Gabarre, Sheila Rodríguez, Niria Rodríguez, Selene Rodríguez, Adriana Isabel Cortés, Alba Carbajal, Daniel Sanginés and Saulo Trujillo.
The tickets are available for regular audiences for 20 euros (5 euros for the audience under 30 years of age), and there are also discounts for students, the unemployed, large families, and groups. The tickets are available on the website www.auditoriodetenerife.com, at the auditorium's box office, or by dialling the phone number 902 317 327 from Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m., Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 02:00 p.m. Subscriptions for this season can still be purchased from 88 euros (20 euros for the audience under 30 years of age) until 5:00 p.m. the day of the first performance, in the same sales channels.