I spent a week in Mexico, staying with my friend meli, who is a cultural anthropologist currently doing her research in Mexico and based in Guadalajara. If you want to read about my entire trip to Guadalajara and Puerto Vallerta, go here.
On my second day we went to the Teatro Degollado to see the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco perform Las Sinfonías de Mahler: La Sexta (Gustav Mahler, Sinfonía núm. 6 en la menor, “Trágica”) or Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 in A minor Tragische (“Tragic”).
The theater is gorgeous. It was built in the neoclassic style in the mid-1800s. It took 10 years from idea to the official opening in 1866. While meli was buying the tickets, I took a few photos from the outside of the theater looking out onto the plaza. This is the historical section of Guadalajara and there is a plaza with the church next to it like you would find in most Latin American and Spanish cities/towns. A lot of Guadalajara reminded me of Puerto Rico – the older homes, the newer homes, plus all the signs in Spanish – that I did not experience much culture shock.
When we took our seats (the theater was not full) the orchestra was already on stage. At one point, first violin got up and left the stage and then returned to give everyone the tuning. Then the music director/conductor came on stage. Marco Parisotto is one of the most expressive conductors I have ever seen. When he wanted to director the musicians in the back he would get on his toes or literally jump up as he pointed his baton at the percussionists. Parisotto feels every note. The orchestra was wonderful and several of the musicians were given solos and were rightly applauded at the end.
The symphony has some beautiful themes but it takes Mahler a while to move and get on with it. The almost repetition and actual repetition make you wonder where he is going. Eighty minutes sometimes felt much longer as a theme was repeated or did not quite get there. The pretty gives way to somber with a finale of three hammer blows. The percussionist was holding the largest mallet I have ever seen and he had this wonderful anticipatory expression on his face as he waited for Parisotto’s signal to bring the mallet down. Tam-tams (gongs) are heard and off-stage there are cowbells and untuned tubular bells that sound like distant church bells.
At the end, I was noting the expressive conductor to meli and two white-haired ladies (Americans) in front of me agreed. We were wondering where they were from. I ran into others in the bathroom.
By Carene Lydia Lopez