OPERA PHILADELPHIA Presents:
|Feb. 7, 9m, 12, 14, 16m, 2014 | Academy of Music|
|Opera at the Academy|
(“Fountain of Tears”)
An Opera in Three Images
Poetry in emotion.
Famed poet and playwright Federico García Lorca now stands as one of Spain’s greatest icons. But in 1936, he found himself standing in front of the firing squad at Ainadamar (“fountain of tears” in Arabic)—quite literally caught in the middle of the Spanish Civil War. In a series of rousing flashbacks, Lorca’s muse Margarita Xirgu conjures up his controversial life and defiant death in this stunning production. With Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov’s Grammy Award-winning flamenco- and rumba-infused score, Ainadamar delivers a dreamlike passion play complete with everything from bullfighting and bravado to the artist’s struggle for love and free expression.
María Hinojosa Montenegro*
as Margarita Xirgu
as Federico García Lorca
as Ramón Ruiz Alonso
as First Solo Niña
Kelly Ann Bixby*
as Second Solo Niña
as José Tripaldi
Compañía Antonio Gades*
as Guest Flamenco Dance Troupe
Ainadamar is an Arabic word meaning “fountain of tears” and is a natural spring located in the hills above the city of Granada, the site where the poet and playwright Federico García Lorca was executed in 1936. Ainadamar tells the story of the playwright’s life and death through the eyes of his lover and muse, actress Margarita Xirgu.
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. Told in three images of flashbacks by Xirgu, the opera utilizes flamenco-accented orchestra sounds as Xirgu, who had a close working relationship with Lorca, reflects on her meetings with Lorca and his final execution for his progressive political ideals. The opera revisits themes from his most famous play, Mariana Pineda, premiered in 1927, a historic drama about a 19th-century Spanish folk heroine who was executed, similarly, for her political ideals. Margarita Xirgu played the title character in this play. The opera begins in the 1960s, with an 81-year-old Xirgu about to go onstage for what will be her last performance of Mariana Pineda.
First Image: Mariana
Uruguay, April 1969: Preparing for a performance, a group of young actresses sing the opening balada of Lorca’s play, Mariana Pineda. Margarita Xirgu looks back forty years to the premiere of Mariana Pineda, as she tries to convey the brilliance of this young author to her student, Nuria. She has a flashback of her meeting with Lorca in a bar in Madrid where he describes his play to her for the first time. It was inspired by a statue of Mariana Pineda that he saw as a child in Granada. Mariana was martyred for sewing a revolutionary flag and refusing to reveal the identity of the revolutionary leaders, including her lover, who deserted her as she then struggled to die with dignity. Margarita compares the eerie foreshadowing of the fate of Mariana and Federico’s subsequent execution. Ramón Ruiz Alonso, the Falangist who executed Lorca, interrupts the flashback. Over the state radio we hear the Falangists extinguish the beginnings of the revolution.
Second image: Federico
The actresses sing the balada from Mariana Pineda again. Margarita is taken back to the summer of 1936, the last time she saw Lorca. The Spanish Civil War has begun and the revolutionaries are in danger. Margarita begs Lorca to come with her theater company to Cuba, but he refuses and stays in Granada to write new plays and poetry.
The news of Lorca’s murder is an early warning to the world. Margarita imagines Ruiz Alonso arresting Lorca and leading him, a bullfighter, and teacher to Ainadmar, the fountain of tears, and making them confess their sins and then shooting them all.
Third Image: Margarita
The play starts one more time as Margarita is dying and the actresses sing the balada once again. She tells Nuria that an actor only lives for a moment but that the voice of the people will never die. The Spanish fascist head of state and military ruler, Francisco Franco, has never permitted Margarita Xirgu, the image of freedom, to come back to Spain, but Margarita has kept the plays of Lorca alive in Latin America while they were forbidden in Spain.
Lorca’s spirit enters the room to comfort Margarita and they walk toward delirium. Margarita dies as her courage and humanity are passed on to Nuria and the young actresses as they walk onto stage. Margarita sings the final lines to Mariana Pineda “I am the fountain from which you drink.” The performance can now begin.
Osvaldo Golijov, born December 5, 1960, grew up in an Eastern European Jewish household in La Plata, Argentina. Born to a piano teacher mother and physician father, Golijov was raised surrounded by classical chamber music, Jewish liturgical and klezmer music, and the new tango of Astor Piazzolla. After studying piano at the local conservatory and composition with Gerardo Gandini he moved to Israel in 1983, where he studied with Mark Kopytman at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy and immersed himself in the colliding musical traditions of that city. Upon moving to the United States in 1986, Golijov earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with George Crumb, and was a fellow at Tanglewood, studying with Oliver Knussen.
In the early 1990s, Golijov began to work closely with two string quartets, the St. Lawrence and the Kronos. Both ensembles were the earliest to project Golijov’s volatile and category-defying style in its true, full form. In 2002, EMI released Yiddishbbuk, a Grammy-nominated CD of Golijov’s chamber music, celebrating ten years of collaboration with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, featuring clarinetist Todd Palmer. The Kronos Quartet released three recordings featuring their collaborations with Golijov: The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind, featuring David Krakauer, as well as Caravan, and Nuevo. Kronos also expanded Golijov’s musical family through collaborations with artists such as the Romanian Gypsy band Taraf de Haidouks, the Mexican Rock group Café Tacuba, tablas virtuoso Zakir Hussain, and legendary Argentine composer, guitarist and producer Gustavo Santaolalla, with whom Golijov continues to collaborate. For the past decade Golijov has been inspired by the voice of Dawn Upshaw, for whom he composed several works, including the Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra, the opera Ainadamar, the cycles Ayre and She Was Here, and a number of arrangements.
In 2000, the premiere of Golijov’s St. Mark Passion took the music world by storm. Commissioned by Helmuth Rilling for the European Music Festival, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of J.S. Bach’s death, the piece featured the Schola Cantorum de Caracas, with the Orquesta La Pasión. For the premiere of Ayre, Golijov founded another virtuoso ensemble, The Andalucian Dogs. Together with Dawn Upshaw, they premiered the piece at Zankel Hall in 2005. The 2006 recording of the opera Ainadamar earned two Grammy awards, one for best opera recording and one for best contemporary composition.
Golijov has received numerous commissions from major ensembles and institutions in the U.S. and Europe. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the Vilcek Prize among other awards. He collaborates closely with directors Francis Ford Coppola and Peter Sellars who staged sold-out and critically acclaimed runs of Ainadamar at the Santa Fe Opera and Lincoln Center.
In 2007, he was named first composer-in-residence at the Mostly Mozart Festival. He is currently co-composer-in-residence, together with Marc-Anthony Turnage, at the Chicago Symphony. He has also been composer-in-residence at the Spoleto USA Festival, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Music Alive series, Marlboro Music, Ravinia, Ojai, Trondheim and Holland festivals. Golijov is Loyola Professor of Music at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, where he has taught since 1991. He also taught for several years at Tanglewood, has led workshops at Carnegie Hall with Dawn Upshaw and teaches in the summers at the Sundance Composers Lab.
Recently completed compositions include the soundtracks for Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth Without Youth and Tetro; Azul, a cello concerto for Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony; Rose of the Winds, premiered by the Silk Road Ensemble and the Chicago Symphony under Miguel Harth-Bedoya; and She Was Here, a work based on Schubert lieder premiered by Dawn Upshaw and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Future works include a new song cycle for Emanuel Ax, Dawn Upshaw and Michael Ward-Bergeman; a new opera, commissioned by New York’s Metropolitan Opera; a violin concerto for Leonidas Kavakos, co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and London Symphony, to be premiered under Gustavo Dudamel in Los Angeles and Simon Rattle in Berlin; a new work for the St. Lawrence String Quartet, and a chamber orchestra piece commissioned by a consortium of 35 American orchestras in honor of Henry Fogel.