Ainadamar (which means "Fountain of Tears" in Arabic) is the first opera by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov. The Spanish-language libretto is by American playwright David Henry Hwang. It premiered in Tanglewood on August 10, 2003 and, after major revisions, the new version given its premiere at The Santa Fe Opera on July 30, 2005.
The opera tells the story of playwright Federico García Lorca and his lover and muse, Catalan actress Margarita Xirgu. A unique aspect of this opera is that the part of male Lorca is played by a woman. Subtitled "an Opera in Three Images," Ainadamar is told in reverse in a series of flashbacks, and involves Lorca's opposition to the Falange, accusations of homosexuality, and his subsequent murder.
Ainadamar has features of both an opera and a passion play, as it examines the powerful symbolic role Lorca has embodied after his death, especially among other artists. Lorca becomes a martyr in the name of freedom of artistic expression. The connections with the Baroque passion musical concept also occur structurally, as the work evolves as a series of arias, recurring choruses and dance genres. The symbolic aspect was emphasized visually by Peter Sellars in his staging for Santa Fe Opera.
Ainadamar also connects with previous operatic traditions, as in the casting of Lorca as a trouser role, in a manner parallel to other impetuous youths of opera, such as Cherubino (The Marriage of Figaro) or Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier). These characteristics have allowed Ainadamar to begin a successful performance run as a non-staged or semi-staged concert work.
Crucially, it appears that performances by a younger generation of singers may prompt an assimilation into the canon — and with it, an integration of the Ibero-American musical languages it espouses into Classical music.
The first recording came out on Deutsche Grammophon on May 9, 2006. It immediately sped to the top of the classical music Billboard charts. It was recorded by the artists for whom it was written, including Dawn Upshaw as Xirgu, Kelley O'Connor as Lorca, Jessica Rivera as Nuria, and conducted by Robert Spano with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and women of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus.
Both the recording and the opera met immediate critical acclaim. The recording won two Grammy Awards: Best Opera Recording of 2006, and Best Classical Contemporary Composition. Like much of Golijov's work, the opera heavily incorporates Arab and Jewish idioms, as well as Spanish flamenco sounds — in fact, there is a flamenco guitar section incorporated into the orchestra.
Presentations in major conservatories have included the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music under Carmen Helena Téllez (2007) and the Curtis Institute of Music under Corrado Rovaris (2008). A concert version was scheduled for Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke's in December 2008, with Upshaw and O'Connor.
A recent performance of the opera took place in Granada, cornerstone of Lorca's life and death during the 60th edition of International Music and Dance Festival of Granada. This consisted in a brand new production by the festivals of Granada, Santander and Oviedo under Luis de Tavira and conductor Corrado Rovaris. The performances took place on June 25 and 27, 2011 at the Alhambra Nasrid palace. The Teatro Real in Madrid staged the Peter Sellars production in 2012, starring Nuria Espert and Jessica Rivera in the role of Xirgu and Kelley O'Connor in the role of Lorca. A production by Quantum Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA, with musical direction by Andres Cladera and stage direction by Karla Boos, opened in October, 2012.
The performers listed are those on the 2006 Deutsche Grammophon recording.
|Margarita Xirgu, an actress||soprano||Dawn Upshaw|
|Federico García Lorca||mezzo-soprano||Kelley O'Connor|
|Nuria, a favorite student of Margarita||soprano||Jessica Rivera|
|Ruiz Alonso, a Falangist officer||Flamenco vocalist||Jesús Montoya|
|José Tripaldi, a Falangist guard||baritone||Eduardo Chama|
|Maestro, a teacher||tenor||Sean Mayer|
|Torero, a bullfighter||tenor||Robb Asklof|
- Ainadamar at the Opera Company of Philadelphia (Now Opera Philadelphia)
- Program notes from Ainadamar performance at Ravinia Festival, 2006
- Alex Ross, "Deep Song: Ainadamar" (Review of Tanglewood premiere), The New Yorker, September 1, 2003
- Osvaldo Golijov's websites
- Granada International Music and Dance Festival