On Friday, 19 October, Cabildo de Tenerife presented the opera The Italian in Algiers, to be performed at Sala Sinfónica in Auditorio de Tenerife from 25 to 28 October with students from the 6th Opera (e)Studio. The details of the production were revealed by the Island Director for Culture and Education, José Luis Rivero, the artistic director of Opera (e)Studio, Giulio Zappa; the stage manager Giorgia Guerra; and musical director, Nikolas Nägele.

This new show by Ópera de Tenerife pays tribute to the composer Gioachino Rossini, on the 150th anniversary of his death. This opera opens the new season on the Island and narrates, in a beautiful climate full of lovely and complex musical tessituras, how Isabella makes the most of her charm and intelligence to free her boyfriend, Lindoro, a prisoner of the King of Algiers.

José Luis Rivero said that “it is a pleasure to present the sixth Opera (e)Studio, the star project in the Ópera de Tenerife season” and added that “it’s very important for us to see what happens in the process; we have young professionals who are extraordinarily trained, who can perform an opera like this”.

Rivero pointed out that The Italian in Algiers is a co-production of Auditorio de Tenerife and Teatro Comunale di Bologna, which will be put on in Italy in June next year. Although this is the first time Giorgia Guerra directs an Opera (e)Studio show, this is actually her fourth production with Ópera de Tenerife. Ópera de Tenerife’s co-productions show the power, capability and scope of the project, which is possible thanks to the great team behind it.

On his part, Giulio Zappa was “very grateful to my production and music staff who help us to improve every year, to be better”. Opera (e)Studio director also stated that “we’re very happy to have been chosen by Creative Europe because it means they acknowledge our opera”. Zappa points out that “rather than being a violent language, opera joins us together, and proof of this is the different nationalities we have at Opera (e)Studio this year, they come from nearly all the continents in the world”.

Finally, Zappa highlighted that “this year marks the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death and I’m honoured to have Opera (e)Studio paying tribute to him with The Italian in Algiers, followed by The Journey to Reims on 15 December where the cast is made up of former Opera (e)Studio students. Rossini is very useful for young singers in musical terms. Every year I try to teach them things but the truth is I also learn a lot from them”. “This is a wonderful thing in our job, you feel like a student your whole life, you’re always learning”, Giulio Zappa concluded.

Giorgia Guerra said that “it’s my first experience with Opera (e)Studio” and “we’re celebrating the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death with this perfect gift: The Italian in Algiers.” “Rossini helped me a great deal to put together the stage management: listening to him made me close my eyes and let the music flow… This is how the concept for this opera came about. Being loyal to what the music demands, produced this little crazy thing as a result. The setting is a great hammam, which is like a wellness centre or a spa”.

“Sometimes the staging is surreal and it can even look like a musical, but we’ve always followed what Rossini’s music suggested. The costumes are very colourful but coherent with the Arab world, as for the Italian side, we got our inspiration from the 1990s fashion”, Guerra explained.

Musical director Nikolas Nägele -his first time in Tenerife- said that “we’ve been working with this wonderful team for three weeks now, including Sinfónica de Tenerife, the Choir and the thirteen young singers. Dealing with a great masterpiece is complicated as this is a great composition”.

The opera, along with the unmistakable Rossini style with energetic, dizzy melodies, is about a rescue mission led by Isabella. The Italian heroine manages to trick his captors and devices an escape plan in addition to leaving her imprint in this Mediterranean city.  The libretto deals with current and universal issues like interculturality or gender conflicts. The Italian in Algiers is one of the most difficult of Rossini’s operas to sing, especially the roles of Isabella and Mustafa.

The thirteen members of Opera (e)Studio were selected at auditions held last May in Bologna, Madrid and Tenerife. 113 artists from different cities in Europe, America or Asia competed for the roles. The singers are grouped in twos, so that two of them play the same role on alternate performances, on 25th and 27th, and 26th and 28th.

The singers performing in this production are the following: Maria Ostroukhova (mezzosoprano); Vittoria Vimercati (mezzosoprano); Milos Bulajic (tenor); Biao Li (tenor); Matías Moncada (bass); Aleksandr Utkin (bass); Gianni Giuga (baritone); Jorge Eleazar Álvarez (baritone); Francesco Samuele Venuti (bass/baritone); Esteban Baltazar (bass/baritone); Inés Lorans (soprano); Anna Kabrera (soprano) and Sophie Burns (mezzosoprano), who is present in all 4 performances.

The costumes, designed by Lorena Marin, have an amusing style in tune with the period, are brightly colourful intermixing European and north-African styles. Marin returns to work in Ópera de Tenerife, after participating in Werther in 2016. The Italian designer has worked in such well-known shows as Un ballo in maschera (Verdi) which opened the Festival dell'Opera dell'Arena in Verona; the Tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi trilogy (Puccini) at the Festival Puccini de Torre del Lago Nabucco (Verdi) or Nabucco (Verdi) at Shangai Opera House.

Opera (e)Studio is an Ópera de Tenerife project whose goal is to train singers by providing them with a comprehensive artistic improvement process, which started last September.

One of the main features of this initiative is its versatility as singers work on different aspects, from different music and stage performing techniques to style, diction, body language and drama combined with rehearsals at the pace set by professional theatre: costume fitting, make up, rehearsing with the orchestra.

Performances on Thursday, 25, Friday 26 and Saturday 27 start at 7:30 pm. The one on Sunday, 28 is at 6:00 pm at Sala Sinfónica in Auditorio de Tenerife.

Tickets can be purchased via the usual sale channels of Auditorio de Tenerife, at the box office from 10:00 am to 7:30 pm, Monday to Saturday; on the website here or by phone on 902 317 327.