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FWO Archives: 'María de Buenos Aires' (Festival 2018) - Q&A with Solange Merdinian

Updated: Jul 2

Acclaimed for her “smoldering stage presence,” (New York Times) and her “richly-hued voice” (BBC Music magazine), American-Argentinean mezzo-soprano Solange Merdinian has garnered an international reputation as a recitalist, chamber musician, and opera singer. https://www.solangemerdinian.com

Photo of Solange Merdinian by Fay Fox.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like MARÍA?

Q&A with Solange Merdinean

Ryan Lathan: María de Buenos Aires is the most commonly performed Spanish language opera in the world. Why do you think Astor Piazzolla 's revolutionary music and Horacio Ferrer's surrealistic tale resonate with modern audiences?

María de Buenos Aires was named Best Classical Music Performance of 2018 by Fort Worth Weekly. Read the full review HERE
Argentinean mezzo-soprano Solange Merdinian and Fort Worth native Ariana Zombar. Photo by Ben Torres.

Solange Merdinian: Exactly 50 years after its premiere on Moy 8, 1968, we are presenting this magnificent work by two of Argentina's greatest icons. Like so many new things in life, change is often resisted by the general public, especially in a genre like tango that is attributed to Argentina, like jazz in the US. With Piozzollo's nuevo tango (new tango), he revolutionized the genre and brought it to the world.

Texas Ballet Theater School dancers and baritone Luis Alejandro Orozco command this scene. Photo by Ben Torres.

I believe the Ferrer and Piozzollo combination hos been so successful, especially for this work, because of the timeless musical and poetic language. María de Buenos Aires is a story told by text and musical colors, featuring influences of other genres and rhythms like jazz, classical music, and straight theater. This new tango captures the spirit of a bold musical expression that continues to speak to so many.

"Seduction, danger and surrealism" Read the Dallas Morning News Review HERE

RL: Beginning with the first María, Argentine singer Amelita Balter, there have been many women who have stepped into the role of María over the past fifty years. What is it about this fallen heroine that interests you as a musician, an actress, and an Argentine?

SuperLatina TV Host and Daytime Emmys winner Gaby Natale is the wicked El Duende. Photo by Ben Torres.

Solange: I remember the first time I auditioned for the part before I first stepped into the role. The company had called me in to use my image as promotional material since my dotes did not coincide with the production dotes. My connection to this character was so strong that I really wanted to do it. I guess they felt the same way since they changed the production dotes so I could perform it.

Liliana Duque Pineiro is the set designer of this tango operita directed and choreographed by John De Los Santos. Photo by Ben Torres.

Once I began studying the music, it was a perfect, effortless match. The vocal range, which a lot of times hos to be transposed higher because it sits low, fit well in my voice. I had to dig into the poetry because if you were just to read Horacio Ferrer's words, they might be difficult to understand as he uses "Lunfardo," which is such a unique dialect. Initially spoken by delinquents and lower class citizens in a region of Buenos Aires, it evolved to be used by writers and become the language of poets for tangos.

"Tango-heavy 'Maria de Buenos Aires' brings a cabaretlike touch to Fort Worth Opera" Read the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Article HERE
Luis Alejandro Orozco in 'María de Buenos Aires.' Photo by Ben Torres.

This role is mode for on actress who con sing. I trained my whole life classically, and this was my first tango experience, which proved to be completely different than anything Ihod done before, especially the female role. If you perform María with on operatic tint, it loses everything that makes it unique. Her music is meant to be sung in a tango style, while the mole role has a more operatic or lyrical approach. This combination of styles is great, and I would go out on a limb and soy it's the Carmen of Tango.

Carmen and María de Buenos Aires hove completely different stories and roles, but they both portray a woman from the streets with a strong personality and charisma. Within the opera, María is often interpreted as embodying the tango and the city of Buenos Aires with all its sides and shadows. Others say it's the story of Jesus but as a woman who has been reincarnated. When I play María, I become her, as I do every time I portray a role in a production. This music, the language of writing and the style is from my country, so you can imagine how much more attached to it I feel since it is the only "Tango Operita" that represents a side of our culture. This role runs in my veins.


Fort Worth Opera Artistic Director Joe Illick discusses Astor Piazzolla's smash hit tango opera María de Buenos Aires


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