The Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra returns this Sunday to the Grand Auditorium of CCB, in Lisbon, for the programme “The Song of the Earth”, considered by many to be Gustav Mahler’s most important work. Performing with the orchestra will be the lyric singers Cátia Moreso and Leonel Pinheiro. There is still time to buy your ticket.
Conducted by the French maestro Sylvain Gasançon, Mahler’s work will be interpreted by tenor Leonel Pinheiro and contralto Catia Moreso, one of the great Portuguese lyric singers of her generation, who studied at the Lisbon National Conservatory and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (Opera Course), in London, where she obtained a degree in singing and a Master’s degree.
Speaking to Metropolitana, Cátia Moreso underlines that she knows this work well, because “only last year” she interpreted it with a smaller instrumental ensemble. “Now it is different”, she recognises. “The number of musicians changes, there are more instruments, so the sound will necessarily be different”. From the point of view of her performance, she doesn’t hide that singing with an orchestra is more comfortable. “There’s a bigger “cushion”, it’s true, we’re less exposed. That “bed” is very important because it supports all our harmonies”.
The Song of the Earth has already been sung by a baritone voice, but Cátia Moreso is not intimidated, because, she argues, “Mahler’s texts are ambiguous, they can be interpreted by a man or a woman”. “But in my opinion, the fact that the work is sung by a woman gives it another richness, because the feminine element is more connected to emotions”. She adds that “it has a lot to do with each interpreter and the strength that each one uses in the words”. “The way I say ‘beautiful’ or ‘dream’ is different from the way a baritone sings. I put more emphasis on certain words. It’s part of me and part of every singer’s nature. That’s why music is so free. Every singer is unique.”
And what can we say about this work that we will be able to see on Sunday at CCB? “The Song of the Earth has a hybrid format, somewhere between a symphony and a cycle of songs”, notes Rui Campos Leitão, musicologist at Metropolitana, who adds that the work “was composed a little over a century ago, at a time when Europe was experiencing a profound change of paradigms, also in the intellectual and artistic universes”.
The result of the marriage between lyric singing and the orchestra is “an exercise on erudition with tremendous expressive density”, since the composer travels the work through “scattered allusions connected to nature, to poetry, to philosophy, to personal life, to popular traditions and even to exoticisms borrowed from distant cultures”, concludes Rui Campos Leitão.
On this Sunday’s programme, OML will also perform the piece “Tua Lágrima em Mim (You Tear in Me)”, composed by Ana Seara in 2009. “It is a clear homage to my parents who, that year, celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary”, the composer tells us. And she continues: “It’s as if the DNA of my tear combines that of my father and my mother and also the joys and sorrows that we, as a family, shared”.
The piece has the particularity of having been programmed several times and performed by several different orchestras. Ana Seara maintains that “this great longevity is something that usually does not happen with contemporary pieces, which are normally premiered and then consigned to oblivion”. “This one, on the contrary, has life. It has lived a long time and I hope it continues to live”.
Also a music teacher she highlights the importance of these 30 years of Metropolitana. “It is an essential institution in Portuguese culture, with excellent musicians and always with very interesting seasons. This one, of its 30th anniversary, is particularly interesting”, she concludes.