Ainadamar looks at the meteoric life and death-by-assassination of Federico García Lorca through the eyes of Margarita Xirgu, Spain’s most celebrated actress. Osvaldo Golijov’s flamenco-tinged score has been called “sensationally beautiful throughout” by The New Yorker and “gorgeous and seductive” by The Boston Globe. Director Peter Sellars and soprano Dawn Upshaw, whose 2002 L’Amour de loin here was a stunning artistic success, are joined for this new production by dynamic young conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya and cutting-edge visual artist Gronk, who will design and paint all the scenery.
The meteoric life and death of Spanish author Federico Garcia Lorca is seen through a flamenco-tinged score.
Ainadamar was commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with performances at Tanglewood in 2003 and Los Angeles in 2004. The opera is being substantially revised and expanded by the composer and librettist, in collaboration with a new stage director, Peter Sellars, for the production in Santa Fe. At this time, there is not a final synopsis of the revised version of Ainadamar, but the following background information will, we hope, be helpful to you.
Ainadamar is an Arabic word meaning “The Fountain of Tears” and it refers to a natural spring in the hills above the city of Granada. It is the site where poet and playwright Federico García Lorca was executed in 1936, at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. In a career spanning fewer than 20 years, García Lorca revolutionized Spanish poetry with works such as “The Gypsy Ballads,” “Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías,” and “Poem of the Deep Song.” He launched a second “Golden Age of Spanish Drama” with plays such as Blood Wedding, Yerma, Dona Rosita the Spinster and The House of Bernarda Alba.
Success as a playwright first came to Lorca in 1927 with Mariana Pineda, an historic drama about a 19th-century Spanish folk heroine who, in an eerie foreshadowing of his own death, was executed for her progressive political ideals. The title character was played by Margarita Xirgu, Spain’s most celebrated actress, who developed a close working relationship with Lorca and who created many of his greatest and most complex characters. When the Spanish Civil War began, Xirgu was on tour in South America and she spent the rest of her life there in voluntary exile.
Ainadamar begins in the 1960’s, with the 81-year old Xirgu about to go onstage for what turns out to be her final performance. She reflects on the passage of time, on her first meetings with Lorca, and the first performances of Mariana Pineda. Her memories focus on Lorca’s arrest and she wonders whether she might have been able to prevent his execution. Golijov tells the story through a flamenco-accented score, through natural sounds (the hoof beats of horses, raindrops, gunshots) which are brilliantly transformed into orchestral interludes, and through a haunting folk ballad about Mariana Pineda’s death.
Osvaldo Golijov was born in 1960 to a piano teacher mother and physician father. He grew up in an Eastern European Jewish household in La Plata, Argentina, not far from Buenos Aires, surrounded by classical chamber music, Jewish liturgical and klezmer music, and the “new tango” of Astor Piazzolla. Golijov came to the United States in 1986, earning a Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. The premiere of Golijov’s La Pasión Según San Marcos (“St. Mark Passion”) in 2000 took the music world by storm. It was commissioned for the Bach Academy of Stuttgart to commemorate the 250th anniversary of J. S. Bach’s death. La Pasión Según San Marcos integrates multiple manifestations of the Christian faith in Latin America, drawing on Holy Week processions and street theater, Afro-Cuban drumming, flamenco, Brazilian percussion, and Gregorian chant for its musical inspiration.
Recommended Recordings: There is no available recording of Ainadamar. The Hanssler Classics recording of La Pasión Según San Marcos and the EMI Classics CD entitled Yiddishbbuk provide the best overview of Golijov’s music and the inspiration he draws from his Jewish/South American background.
- Margarita Xirgu - Dawn Upshaw
- Federico García Lorca - Kelley O'Connor
- Nuria - Jessica Rivera
- Ruiz Alonso - Percy Martinez
- Jose Tripaldi - Scott Tomlinson
- A Teacher - Alex Richardson
- A Bullfighter - Robb Asklof
- Ensemble - Jennifer Black
- Ensemble - Jennifer Holloway
- Ensemble - Anne-Carolyn Bird
- Ensemble - Deborah Domanski
- Ensemble - Rosella Ewing
- Ensemble - Sarah Hibbard
- Ensemble - Anya Matanovič
- Ensemble - Amber Smoke
- Conductor - Miguel Harth-Bedoya
- Director - Peter Sellars
- Scenic Designer - Gronk
- Costume Designer - Gabriel Berry
- Lighting Designer - James F. Ingalls
- Chorus Master - Gregory Buchalter