“Giselle” opens Spain Year at Bogotá’s Teatro Mayor

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"Giselle" by Spain's Compañía Nacional de Danza. Photo: Teatro Mayor.

Starting its second consecutive year as Guest Nation of Honor at Teatro Mayor, Spain officially launches its 2023 program on Thursday, January 26, with the National Dance Company’s interpretation of “Giselle.” The hauntingly serene version of one of the most beloved ballets of all time is directed by Spanish choreographer Joaquín De Cruz, and production accompanied by the National Symphony of Colombia (OSNC).

“Giselle” debuted in 1841 at the Paris Opera, and is inspired by the Germanic fables of Heinrich Heine and Victor Hugo’s “Fantomes”. Based on a libretto by the 19th-Century poet Theóphile Gautier, and score by French composer Adolphe Adam, “Giselle” is considered a classic “ballet-pantomine” that fuses Slavic legends with themes of deceit, heart-break, power, love and, untimely death.

As the opening work in a year in which Spain delivers world-class artists to Teatro Mayor, from April 5 to 8, this cultural center will also host the Sixth edition of the Bogotá International Classical Music Festival and concert series dedicated to the composers of La Belle Epoque. With the title “Bogotá is France,” the four-day event showcases the works of Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Lili Boulanger, Camille Saint-Saëns, Gabriel Fauré and Cécile Chaminade, among others. Included in the stellar line-up is the presence in the country of the acclaimed Orchester des Champs-Élysées and German singer Ute Lemper. Other renowned artists who will participate in a festival that celebrates one of the most intensively creative eras in Western history are Spanish violinist Leticia Moreno, the Hungarian ballet company Győr, Colombian soprano Betty Garcés and cellist Santiago Cañón-Valencia.

As part of the Teatro Mayor’s regular program the Kyiv Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra will make its debut in the country, at a difficult moment for Ukrainian musicians given the almost year-long invasion of their sovereign country by Russia. Arriving from down under is the Australian circus company Circa – and from the Great White North – the Quebec City-based Dynamo Théatre with its energetic, acrobatic repertoire.

A year in which Spain brings to Colombia the National Dance Company, National Dance Ballet, María Pagés Compañía and National Orchestra of Spain, the extensive program also includes a “Window on Basque Country” represented by the contemporary dance company Kukai Dantza.

In the lyrical category, Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo offers a broad and generous overview of the processes of international artistic creation, as well as the creative interests of national artists. In February (24 and 26), stage director Pedro Salazar teams up with music director Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the National Symphony Orchestra to stage Puccini’s beloved “Tosca.”

The opera will be led by a cast of international and national vocalists, and youth choir of the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra (OFB). In addition, a contemporary opera version of ‘La vida es sueño’, a masterpiece by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, will premiere at Teatro Mayor, and work  directed by Alejandro Chacón, with music by Juan Pablo Carreño. The French chamber orchestra La Chapelle Harmonique is in charge of the score. Take note of the dates: July 21 and 22.

The Medellín Philharmonic Orchestra, Colombian Youth Philharmonic and New Philharmonic Orchestra also make their return this year to the main stage at Teatro Mayor.

The Great Concerts cycle features the Kyiv Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra (June 6) under the baton of Dmitry Yablonsky, and on September 8 and 9, the National Orchestra of Spain directed by German music director David Afkham, will perform iconic works from the peninsula, including ‘Iberia’ and ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’. On November 18, the Russian-born, Israeli violinist Maxim Vengerov, will offer audiences a unique opportunity to hear a virtuoso who made his first public debut at age 5.

María Pagés Compañía, with a choreographic creation based on the literary classic ‘The Thousand and One Nights’ (March 17 and 18); and pianist Luis Fernando Pérez (June 27) are more highlights of an incredible year of performing arts and culture at Teatro Mayor.