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Tango meets opera in Syracuse

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SYRACUSE — A mix of opera and tango will fill the Carrier Theater of the Mulroy Civic Center in January and February.

Syracuse Opera will stage “Maria de Buenos Aires” on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2, 5, 7 and 9 at the theater, 411 Montgomery St.

Syracuse Opera directors say the sultry Spanish “tango operita” will be an “electrifying and provocative” theatrical experience.

The tale follows the journey of a woman seduced by the passion of tango into a dangerous life in the underworld of Buenos Aires. The production will bring singers and dancers close to the audience while the jazz-influenced “Nuevo Tango” music fills the theater.

“Maria de Buenos Aires” will be sung in Spanish with projected English titles and will feature internationally renowned artists and professional musicians of Symphoria.

Symphoria is the orchestra of Musical Associates of Central New York, a nonprofit organization consisting of nearly 50 members of the former Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.

Starring in the leading roles and making their Syracuse Opera debuts are soprano Catalina Cuervo as Maria and baritone Luis Alejandro Orozco as Payador. Syracuse University drama professor Anthony Salatino directs and choreographs. Brian DeMaris conducts.

Ms. Cuervo, a native of Colombia, is a specialist in “Maria de Buenos Aires,” having performed the role more than any other singer in the world for companies such as Florida Grand Opera, Cincinnati Opera and Milwaukee Opera.

She recently won the graduate division of the Chicago Area for the Classical Singer Competition and was a finalist in New York City area competition as well.

Mr. Orozco, a Mexican-American baritone, was born in El Paso but raised in Juarez Chihuahua Mexico for most of his life. He is a graduate of the artist diploma program at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.

He has performed with such companies as Lake George Opera (Saratoga Opera), Des Moines Metro Opera, El Paso Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Lexington Philharmonic, Florida Grand Opera and Opera Theater of Saint Louis. Mr. Orozco appeared as the baritone soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.

Mr. DeMaris, conductor, returns after conducting Syracuse Opera’s February production of “Sweeney Todd.” He serves as music director of Mill City Summer Opera, director of opera and musical theater at Ithaca College, and is an artist/faculty member at Aspen Music Festival.

Set in Argentina, the plot of “Maria de Buenos Aires” tells the tale of ill-fated Maria, who was said to be born “on a day when God was drunk.” Living in the poor suburbs of Buenos Aires, she is seduced by the sounds of tango, becoming a streetwalker and falls victim to a tragic death.

The audience then follows “Maria’s Shadow” as it walks the city’s underground, looking to restore her sense of purpose.

The score is full of the sounds of tango. In addition to traditional orchestral instruments, additions include Spanish guitar and the bandeneon, a cousin of the accordion.

The details
WHAT: Syracuse Opera presents “Maria de Buenos Aires”
WHEN: 8 p.m. on the Fridays of Jan. 31 and Feb. 7, 8 p.m. on the Sundays of Feb. 2 and 9 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5.
WHERE: The Carrier Theater of the Mulroy Civic Center, 411 Montgomery St., Syracuse.
COST: Tickets start at $18 and are available by calling the Syracuse Opera box office at 476-7372 or online at www.syracuseopera.com
OF NOTE: There will be preperformance talks hosted by Douglas Kinney Frost, Syracuse Opera producing and artistic director, one hour prior to each performance.
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