The IPO whizzed across the Plata River at 80 km/hr. by high speed ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo this morning.  On their way to Saturday night’s concert, players amused themselves with on-board internet and the duty-free store or caught up on sleep.

crossing Rio de la Plata 

Montevideo looks like Hemingway’s Havana re-constructed with local fishermen lounging on the seaside promenade leading from the port and a mix of run-down colonial, arte-nouveau and socialist regime buildings.  The city sits on an incredible site surrounded by water; the sea on one side and the port on the other.  Uruguay has known incredibly prosperous periods, and tour books say it’s enjoying a hi-tech boom, but many former “palaces” of the wealthy are boarded up or crumbling in the sea-air. Warehouses stand empty in the port. The traffic, mostly middle aged wrecks and smoking buses, is very thin.

lunch at the market 

IPO members found their way from the hotel to the port for Saturday market, a colorful and very tasty local festival of food and music. But, the market was in contrast to the general feeling of neglect and stagnation.

One corner of the Plaza Independencia, across from the hotel, certainly isn’t neglected: Teatro Solis.   Built in 1856, this gem of architecture was preserved by the State in a 6 year renovation.  Its 5 tiers reach to the decorated ceiling and crystal chandelier high over the audience.  A modern backstage was added to make it compatible with today’s theater and opera, but the personality of Latin America’s oldest opera house was preserved.  The building is carefully guarded by the staff and security doors are a contrast to the chaos in the streets.  (One orchestra member was victim of an attempted robbery on the way to the hall.)

Finally the acoustics were excellent! The concert of Strauss and Beethoven was a huge success and in the photo of the concert, one clearly sees the standing ovation for the Israel Philharmonic with Maestro Mehta.

standing ovation at Teatro Solis