Rosario – Monday 30 October 2000

We travelled to Rosario, an industrial city on the Parana River about 4 hours by bus northwest of Buenos Aires. The journey, through the ‘pampas’, the flat grasslands that stretch for many hundreds of miles around this part of Argentina, is unremarkable, with only green fields and some trees to see, as the motorway doesn’t pass through any towns. The most remarkable event of the journey was when our host, Recha, from Mozarteum Argentine, managed to lock herself in the toilet on board the bus. Fortunately with the assistance of several musicians’ tool kits, she was soon liberated. The weather, which has been quite mild with temperatures in the teens suddenly has become warmer, and it’s quite hot by the time we reach Rosario.

Sue Ellen has been experiencing some pain in her foot, and a doctor is arranged in Rosario. After an initial consultation Sue Ellen is carted off to hospital for x-rays – very dramatic and exciting. She is back on stage in time for rehearsal, and apparently they decided not to amputate!

Rosario is a city of around one million inhabitants who keenly defend their city against comparisons with Buenos Aires, much like the Hobart-Launceston rivalry. The theatre – Auditorio Fundacion – is remarkably like Launceston’s Princess, right down to the dry acoustic and florid proscenium. It has three balconies and astonishing fully sprung seats that creak and groan whenever one moves on them. Backstage facilities are minimal and the hall has no air-conditioning or even air circulation (apart from a few fans around the auditorium that are not used during musical events, so it is very hot and quite humid. Despite the discomforts, the Orchestra sounds in fine form and is rewarded with applause and shouts for encores from the well-heeled (literally – the shoes are amazing) audience. Liwei gave two short encores, but the Orchestra was unprepared for the demand, which drew comment from audience members later. In future concerts, they will have a movement from the other symphony up their sleeves, as apparently the audiences are quite disappointed here if they miss out.

After the performance, a few players, David, Julie and myself were invited to ‘supper’ with members of the local Mozarteum Argentine committee (it seems to work a lot like Musica Viva). We were ushered into a basement-level restaurant near the hotel (under, it turns out, a major bank). The room is very smart, with elegantly tiled floor, artworks and chandeliers, where we were greeted and offered champagne. Then we moved into a private dining room – completely circular and wood-paneled – for supper, which turns out to be a full three-course, silver service meal (remembering that the concert didn’t commence until 9.00pm and it is now nearly midnight!) The evening is nevertheless extremely convivial and a good time is had by all, despite it feeling like something from a Peter Greenaway film. These events seem to be very important to the local elite who are very active in their support of Mozarteum events.

We have had this morning free to explore Rosario, which has one of the largest monuments I’ve ever seen stretching nearly three blocks from the riverside park into the centre of the city. We board the bus at 1.00pm for the return journey to Buenos Aires. A number of people are planning to visit (or revisit) the tango bar tonight, if it is open.

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