By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Municipal Theatre of Rio has announced its program for the 2018 season. The lineup includes Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, five ballets, five operas, three concert operas, two opéra-ballets, a classical concert, and also a special celebration of the Municipal Theatre’s 109th birthday.
Highlights of the program include Franz Lehár’s ‘The Merry Widow’, translated by Millôr Fernandes and with a liberetto written by Miguel Falabella, who will be conducting in the Rio Municipal Theatre for the first time.
The season will begin on March 31st with Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No.2, also known as ‘The Resurrection’. This will be performed by the Municipal Theatre’s own choir and symphonic orchestra, featuring the Brazilian Symphonic Orchestra as a special guest. It will also include a performance by dancers Ana Botafogo and Cecília Kerche, in a piece choreographed by Marcelo Misailidis.
The theatre’s new director, Fernando Bicudo, has been given R$3.6 million by the State Government for the season; but he also hopes to attract a pool of sponsors that are willing to co-produce pieces or provide additional funding.
Tobias Volkmann will be overseeing symphonic and choral concerts, while Pier Francesco Maestrini will be in charge of operas, and Ana Botafogo and Cecília Kerche will be managing the ballets.
Jésus Figueiredo will be conductor of the choir. The season will also include ‘Royal Sundays’, a project that will present free shows and sessions for schools and children from poorer communities.
Carmen Tedesco, a U.S. expatriate who has lived in Rio for years and frequented the theater shares, “The Municipal Theater is a jewel of Rio. I have attended when the Bolshoi Ballet Theater company was performing. The architecture is from another era, during the colonial period, you feel like you in Europe.”
In 2016 the artistic body of the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro was forced to suspend the rehearsals for their upcoming premieres due to unpaid wages. Thankfully the 2018 season is scheduled to start and keep the cultural attraction and venue available to the public.
Construction of the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro began in 1905 under the mayor of the then national capital, Pereira Passos. Overlooking Floriano Square, more commonly known as Cinelândia, the Municipal Theater is one of the city’s most beautiful buildings, and was re-opened in May 2010 after two years of extensive refurbishments.