Gabriela from Buenos Aires
A fiesta of Latin American rhythms comes to St. Petersburg this week.
Published: November 14, 2008 (Issue # 1425)
This year marks several significant dates in Latin American music.
Not only is 2008 the 50th anniversary of Bossa Nova, the jazz samba trend orignated in Brazil by, among others, Antonio Carlos Jobim, it is also the 40th anniversary of “Maria de Buenos Aires,” an operetta based on an Argentine tango by Astor Piazzolla.
Bringing these annivesraries together in St. Petersburg this week is singer Gabriela Bergallo who is set to perform in the first staging of “Maria de Buenos Aires” in Russia on Sunday at the Baltiisky Dom Theater and in a concert of Bossa Nova music with St. Petersburg jazz maestro David Goloshchokin at the State Hermitage Theater on Monday.
Jazz, tango and Bossa Nova are “visual” genres where musical and theatrical improvisation meet, said Bergallo, who was born in Buenos Aires.
“I have been engaged with music and theater all my life because I spent 20 years doing Italian opera, where acting is nearly as important as singing,” she said.
“I studied Music and Languages at the Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires. Then I continued developing my singing technique with different teachers in Europe and I entered the opera studio at Conservatory Schaffhausen.
“In 2003, together with my brother and my husband, we created the Piccolo Musikfestival, which has taken place every summer since then, under my direction, in Embrach, Switzerland.”
Bergallo’s repertoire includes sacred music, tango, Argentine folk, Brazilian pop, Bossa Nova, samba, boleros, jazz and chamber music from Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Italy and Spain.
Bergallo’s first appearance in St. Petersburg was at the beginning of 2008 when “Maria de Buenos Aires,” directed by Giuliano Di Capua in cooperation with AXE Theater, had its Russian premiere.
The setting of Buenos Aires, with its hot mix of tango and passion, smell of beefsteak, coffee, caramel and cigarettes, is the backdrop for “Maria de Buenos Aires,” a surreal story about a prostitute condemned to hell.
“The experience of appearing in ‘Maria’ is extremely exciting for me,” Bergallo said, “because of the sensuality of its music, poetry and a beautiful and original mise en scene.”
As well as Bergallo, the tango-operetta features the Remolino quintet and Russian tango champions Natalia and Alexander Berezhnovy under the direction of Di Capua, an Italian-Swiss who graduated from the St. Petersburg State Theater Arts Academy.
It was Di Capua, Bergallo said, who introduced the singer to Goloshchokin, the jazz multi-instrumentalist and director of the Jazz Philharmonic Hall.
“Last January, when Giuliano Di Capua introduced me to Goloshchokin, I brought him a CD with one of my live Brazilian music performances. After listening to the first song, he asked me to play Bossa Nova with his sextet the next time I came to St. Petersburg.
“We played together in March and June at Jazz Philharmonic Hall. And we will perform on Monday [Nov. 17] at the State Hermitage Theater, in honor of one of the creators of this genre: Antonio Carlos Jobim. We will play some of his most well-known songs. It is a beautiful experience for me to sing with such good musicians in a city where I feel at home, especially this year when Bossa Nova has its 50th anniversary.”