Every year when the Ópera de Colombia draws back its curtains with the start of an Opera Season, Bogotanos can consider themselves fortunate to enjoy productions matched only by prestigious opera companies in the world. Although our venues tend to be smaller than our European counterparts, the acoustics of a Teatro Mayor Santo Domingo or Cafam Theatre are well matched to opera and the dynamic range of singers.

With the relentless drive of the Opera de Colombia’s director Gloria Zea, the company has been able to exist close to four decades, reaffirming a commitment to this country’s cultural scene and offering choreographers and musicians the opportunity to showcase their art.

For three nights in July, the Opera de Colombia shifts creative gears by handing over the baton to the charismatic Gustavo Dudamel of the Los Angeles Philharmonic while he conducts the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela through Richard Wagner’s demanding work, Tannhauser. The performances are scheduled for the 13, 16 and 18 of the month at the Teatro Municipal Jorge Eliécer Gaitán.

While Dudamel dazzles, the Opera de Colombia will mark several firsts. The first time a Richard Wagner opera is performed in this country and the first time the L.A based music director conducts Tannhauser. “It’s the most important challenge we have had to assume since we began as an opera company,” states Zea. “Tannhäuser is a challenge for any opera as it requires 10 soloists and the role of Tannhäuser is considered among the most difficult in music.” Colombian soloists Valeriano Lanchas and César Gutierrez take the stage for this cultural event along with 48 musicians and the 80 singers of the Ópera de Colombia Choir.

And to ‘tropicalize’ a charged Wagnerian landscape, the Cartagena based contemporary dance company “Colegio del Cuerpo” will perform in the ballet sequence of the first act. While opera goers will no doubt be swooned by Dudamel’s take on ‘Tannhäuser,’ others less familiar with Wagner may find his music difficult to take in. For Gloria Zea, one of the satisfactions of planning an event of this size is being able to bring music (and the talent of the Opera) to audiences, which might not otherwise have to chance to hear Wagner or witness a world-class conductor at work. Hence tickets have been priced affordably between $30.000 pesos and $120.000 and are available through online agents www.tuboleta.com

Don’t delay on an evening with Gustavo Dudamel and the Opera de Colombia. As with so many other highlights Gloria Zea has achieved for her country and in the name of culture, the sword-fighting knights in Tannhäuser will have you wishing our July nights never end.