Enoa Lab Videos
Bach’s Passion reinterpreted in a staged version in Portuguese
Premiere of the Portuguese version of Bach’s St John Passion enraptured the audience of Guimaraes
The Passion – In rehearsal
Pictures by Janete Ruiz
Feature: Pedro Ribeiro on opera
Posted on 30 September 2013 by Emily Webb
An alumnus of the Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, Portuguese stage director Pedro Ribeiro is paving the way for young people in opera. With a hugely varied list of work behind him, Pedro is now working with the Royal Opera House as he directs the UK premiere of rarely heard Spanish opera El Gato Con Botas. Penned by Xavier Montsalvatge and based on Charles Perrault’s fairytale, it tells the story of a wily cat who decides to transform the fortunes of his impoverished keeper.
But has he always loved opera? “No, no!” he tells me. “The first opera I saw was Nabucco and it was the most boring night of my life! It was really bad. It was this kind of classical production and I never thought about directing opera when I was seeing that.” This will be a familiar tale for many young people across the globe, who perhaps see opera as an art form that alienates all but a very select audience. And the result is that “we miss good productions,” says Ribeiro. “Especially new productions of new commissions and new music. That would be something I would like to do: contemporary opera. It is a really interesting area because you can start by singing musical theatre, then operetta and that can evolve into opera.”
So is Ribeiro hoping to bring more people to opera in the near future? “When I started opera I started it as a challenge, as I realised it is the most difficult [type of] show to stage. It’s like reading a book. You start with children’s books and you develop the way you want to see and hear the story.” Even one of opera’s most exciting new stars wasn’t always completely enamoured by the art.
Like any good story, Ribeiro’s love of opera has been a journey of discovery. Having studied directing theatre at university, Pedro worked as an assistant for a Portuguese production company and found a new excitement for opera when working on The Enchantments of Medea there. “It was a discovery for me that it was a Baroque opera and everyone was completely engaged in the story. It was fun and the story was superbly well told.” His passion for directing opera grew rapidly, and a quick glance at his CV reveals he has worked on some of greatest stages in the world, and here in the UK, Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House itself. The Jette Parker Young Artists Programme is a development opportunity for emerging artists whose career has attracted the attention of the Opera House, and Ribeiro graduated from the programme this August.
For some, returning to the Opera House as a professional in their own right might present a challenge, but not for Ribeiro. “It’s quite comfortable coming back to the Linbury [Theatre] and to the Royal Opera House because now I know everyone. In the beginning I didn’t know anyone and I was thinking, ‘Oh my god it’s the Royal Opera House!’ and after two years I got used to it. Even though it’s a big house, it’s weird; I think 800 people work here but there is some sort of family thing. We know each other; we speak with each other and a lot of different departments. It doesn’t feel like somewhere that isn’t home. The problem is going to be work outside!”
Ribeiro’s career is in full swing, but for aspiring performers, directors and the like, breaking into the opera industry may seem like an impossible task. I ask his advice: “When I used to be a teacher a lot of students would ask me this. Honestly, I would say to them, do you really love it, really really love it and cannot see yourself doing anything else? Are you sure you don’t want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or an architect?” It’s clear Ribeiro passionately feels the dedication and intense focus this career demands as he recalls these moments. “It’s a really hard career, really demanding and the only way you can stay in directing theatre or opera is because you love it and you cannot see yourself doing anything else.” If you do have that burning passion for the art, however, Ribeiro enthuses that the UK is a great place to be. “You have so many shows premiering all the time in London, it was so good to be able to come here and see Fringe shows for example. I was completely fascinated because we don’t have this kind of thing in Portugal. The way that London produces is very clever and it’s a complete world of things that come to you and you absorb. I don’t think there is a better place to be in the world for arts.”
INTERVIEW FOR EFE
Llega a Londres la version onirica
de El gato con botas
El mundo onírico de la primera ópera del compositor español Xavier Montsalvatge llega a la Royal Opera House de la mano de un joven elenco
EFE | El Universal
A partir del libreto que el también español Néstor Luján compuso en 1947, el director portugués Pedro Ribeiro ha profundizado en este relato clásico, dirigido habitualmente al público infantil, para añadirle nuevas capas de sentido que cautiven al público adulto de Covent Garden, una de las casas de ópera más relevantes de Europa.
En la fábula clásica de Charles Perrault, el gato con botas es un personaje ladino que facilita el ascenso social del infortunado hijo de un molinero, mientras que en la versión de Ribeiro es el propio joven quien toma las riendas de su vida para alcanzar sus objetivos.
“En el relato original, el protagonista logra lo que quiere porque finge que es otra persona. No me gustaba esa moral, así que he tratado de cambiar la historia” , explicó a Efe el director, que ha colaborado con el diseñador australiano Simon Bejer para recrear un ambiente “mágico” y “onírico” sobre el escenario del Linbury Studio, parte de la Royal Opera House.
En el montaje, que se estrena el miércoles, la mezzo-soprano irlandesa Rachel Kelly y la soprano armenia Anush Hovhannisyan, ambas integrantes del programa para jóvenes artistas Jette Parker, comparten las tablas con una serie de marionetas y “objetos” escénicos que compiten en protagonismo con los actores.
“Nos hemos inspirado en juguetes clásicos españoles y portugueses, pero hemos añadido nuevas combinaciones de colores y hemos tratado de crear un vestuario singular. Hemos partido de la tradición y esperamos haber llegado a un lugar interesante e innovador” , relató Bejer.
El director y el diseñador escénico comparten la visión de que la interacción entre personajes humanos y objetos inanimados transforma la experiencia del espectador en el teatro.
“En una ópera, los sentimientos deben estirarse. Cuando alguien se enamora, esa emoción puede mantenerse durante los cuatro minutos de un aria. El objeto escénico, el títere, que está vivo y a la vez es inanimado, puede mantener a veces esa tensión mejor que un actor” , sostuvo Ribeiro.
Los cantantes manipulan durante la obra algunas de las marionetas que se mueven y sobrevuelan el escenario, si bien un equipo de titiriteros portugueses lleva el peso de ese aspecto del montaje.
Tras ensayar durante semanas sobre un escenario vacío, “llegaron los titiriteros y todo cambió por completo, surgió una nueva energía. Los actores tenían que reaccionar a los objetos moviéndose, volviéndose locos. Fue fantástico, quizás lo más bello hasta ahora” , describió el director.
La peculiar historia y escenografía de esta versión de “El gato con botas” avanzan a lo largo de un solo acto con cinco escenas animado por la música de Montsalvatge, una “mezcla de temas populares con Mozart y Puccini, un ejercicio lleno de estilo que puede ser una bella forma de introducirse en la ópera” , sostuvo el portugués.
El director de la obra, con formación en la música y el teatro, ve la ópera como una forma de mezclar ambas disciplinas para crear una “forma de arte perfecta”
“Es algo casi abstracto, un modo de desconectar del mundo. Cuando vas a la ópera entras al teatro dejando atrás la realidad. Sabes que hay alguien manipulando las marionetas, pero aún así lo crees, quieres enamorarte de los personajes, creer que están vivos” , afirmó el portugués.
Pictures Sets for El Gato Con Botas at the Royal Opera House
Young Artist Profile: Stage Director Pedro Ribeiro on melding theatre and music
The Portuguese Stage Director reflects on two years with The Royal Opera.
By Lottie Butler – 25.March.2013
Stage director Pedro Ribeiro is now in the final months of his time with the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme. Since joining in 2011, he has directed productions in the Linbury Studio Theatre and assisted some of the world’s most renowned opera directors, including Francesca Zambello, Robert Carsen and John Copley. It’s a long way from his first experience of opera, which he describes as anything but positive: ‘It was awful. I never wanted to go to the theatre again’.
Pedro began studying music when he was five, playing both the piano and harp. He was also involved in theatre at school, and went on to take a BA in Theatre Production and Techniques, a Licenciatura degree in Stage Direction at the University of Oporto and the opera directing course of the Gulbenkian Foundation.
Despite his negative first impressions, Pedro now considers opera the perfect art form for him to work with. ‘It was always a fight between music and theatre. I would play in an orchestra or ensemble by day and then go and direct a play in the evening! I knew I needed something to combine them or else I would just go mad’, he explained.
Opera enables me to be immersed in theatre, music, arts and dance all at once. It fills me up.”
Pedro made his Royal Opera House debut with a staging of Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été in the Linbury. Since then, he has directed an evening of opera scenes in the smaller of the ROH’s two auditoriums as well as a concert performance on the Main Stage.
This Season, he has worked with Laurent Pelly on Meyerbeer’s epic Robert le diable and with Kasper Holten on Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. ‘After two years, your ears get used to hearing superstars like Angela Gheorghiu, or Krassimira Stoyanova, who recently sang Tatyana in Eugene Onegin. It’s overwhelming. You also have the best orchestra playing and amazing stage management behind you.’
Krassimira Stoyanova as Tatyana and Vigdis Hentze Olsen as Young Tatyana in Eugene Onegin © ROH / Bill Cooper 2013
Pedro is currently assisting director Daniele Abbado on his new production of Verdi’sNabucco, which opens at Covent Garden on 30 March following its premiere at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. The opera, which is considered Verdi’s breakthrough work, is an historical epic and features an enormous chorus. ‘Organizing the schedule for such a large opera – with chorus, actors, children, principals and covers – is an all-consuming task,’ he explains.
The Jette Parker Young Artists Programme employs promising young artists as salaried members of the Royal Opera House, offering a tailored programme to help them develop and refine their skills. Pedro has language classes in Russian, Italian, French and German, attends stagecraft workshops and has sessions in the Alexander Technique and Mind Skills. ‘Where else can you be working and have all the coaching you want at the same time?’ he said. ‘It’s perfect!’.
Nabucco runs from 30 March – 26 April 2013. Pedro will also be assisting Associate Director of Opera John Fulljames on his new production of La donna del lago, which opens on 17 May. The Jette Parker Young Artists Programme is supported by the Oak Foundation.
The Royal Opera House
turns to Portuguese talent
The soprano Susana Gaspar and the theatre director Pedro Ribeiro are the first Portuguese artists ever to participate in the Jette Parker artistic program, run by the Royal Opera House (ROH), in London. The program, which has already welcomed figures today recognised worldwide – such as Marina Poplavskaya –, is designed for young artists from around the world who are embarking on their careers. In 2011, Susana and Pedro were selected for the program and were two out of the total six drawn from 478 candidates.
Throughout two years, they work as employees of the London opera house, whether staging their own performances or contributing to the production of the great landmark events on the ROH’s performance.
They receive training and refine their artistic skills and qualities whether in terms of singing, directing orchestras or directing. The first “tests” for these young emerging artists took place last October with the presentation in the ROH theatre studio of Le Portrait de Manon (Massenet) and Les Nuits d’Été (Berlioz). Pedro Ribeiro directed and Susana Gaspar featured among the cast. “Beginning my work with a double production was a true adventure”, said Pedro Ribeiro, who in 2007 had also been selected for the Opera Directing Course by the Gulbenkian Artistic Creativity and Creation Program. “However, the performances received a very warm welcome from the public and, after that point, everything became easier and clearer”, continued Pedro, who is now working as an assistant to the resident director in re-staging D. Giovanni and La Bohème, among other performances scheduled for the main stage at the ROH. He has nothing but praise for the professionalism and organisation of the “house” while also mentioning the warm working environment.
Susana Gaspar, a former Gulbenkian grant holder in London, “would like to sing all over the world.” The objective of this admirer of Maria Callas and Jessye Norman is to build an international career, despite nominating the São Carlos National Theatre as a special personal point of reference: “It was the place that I first met with opera.” The view she has of her first few months of work at the ROH is “absolutely fantastic” and agrees with Pedro Ribeiro when highlighting the warmth of the welcome given by the professionals at the landmark London institution: “I didn’t feel any need for adaptation, I felt right at home.”
Pedro foi um dos seis jovens escolhidos para integrar uma das melhores casas de ópera do mundo
Pedro Ribeiro: Estar na Royal Opera House e’ “uma excelente oportunidade”
Por Catarina Gomes Sousa – firstname.lastname@example.org
Publicado: 23.05.2011 | 18:02 (GMT)
Alguns dias após ter sido seleccionado como novo encenador da Royal Opera House, Pedro Ribeiro deu uma entrevista exclusiva ao JPN. O artista confessa que demorou até acreditar na escolha do júri.
Como reagiu ao saber que foi seleccionado como encenador do Royal Opera House?
Quando passei a primeira fase do concurso, para ir às entrevistas, o e-mail começava de forma diferente, então quando li o início deste último achei que não tinha sido seleccionado. Ao continuar a ler não queria acreditar. Achei que não estava a traduzir bem. Tive de o ler três vezes para acreditar… fiquei sem reacção. A segunda reacção foi dizer que já não queria ir. A terceira foi: estás doido!
É a primeira vez que trabalha além-fronteiras?
Sim. Apenas tive algumas participações em festivais de teatro, mas nada parecido com um contrato de dois anos!
Sente que o seu trabalho é reconhecido em Portugal?
Não e sim. Não, pelas grandes companhias ou teatros com programação cultural. E sim, por algum público e interpretes que já reconhecem o meu trabalho nas áreas da ópera e teatro musical.
Considera que esta será a grande oportunidade da sua vida e da sua carreira?
Não sei. É uma excelente oportunidade, se é a grande oportunidade da minha vida ou carreira, não sei. Espero ter ainda mais oportunidades! Apenas fico muito contente pelo meu trabalho ser reconhecido na melhor casa de ópera do mundo. E espero aprender muito com todos os maravilhosos mestres que lá trabalham.
Já fez alguns contactos no Royal House Opera?
Os jovens artistas tiveram uma semana de introdução em Abril para nos ambientarmos e nos conhecermos. Fazem essa semana para o choque não ser tão forte quando iniciarmos o contrato em Setembro. E realmente foi um choque… muito positivo!
O que espera encontrar lá?
Tudo o que um encenador necessita (e muito mais) para poder criar e aprender.
Pretende trabalhar em Portugal ou no estrangeiro?
Não posso colocar uma barreira física na minha carreira. Irei trabalhar onde houver lugar para as minhas criações serem apreciadas.
12 Names for the Future
Lux Magazine – April 2013
“From cinema to design, from music to culinary, going through several different areas, these are our bets for the next 12 years…
Pedro Ribeiro – Theatre
He got what so many only dream about. To be an opera stage director at the Royal Opera House in London…”
LUSA NEWS AGENCY VIDEO INTERVIEW