Bernarda Alba (musical)

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Bernarda Alba
Music Michael John LaChiusa
Lyrics Michael John LaChiusa
Book Michael John LaChiusa
Basis The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca
Productions 2006 Off-Broadway
2010 London

Bernarda Alba is a one-act musical with music, lyrics and book by Michael John LaChiusa, based on Federico García Lorca's 1936 play The House of Bernarda Alba. Bernarda Alba tells the story of a controlling, newly widowed mother who is challenged by her five rebellious daughters. The musical opened Off Broadway at Lincoln Center's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater to mixed reviews.

Productions[edit]

With direction and choreography by Graciela Daniele, the all-female cast starred Phylicia Rashād and Daphne Rubin-Vega. The production had a limited run from March 6 to April 9, 2006.[1][2] The production received Lucille Lortel Awards and Outer Critics Circle Awards Best Musical and choreography (Daniele) nominations. The lighting designer (Stephen Strawbridge) received nominations from Lortel, Henry Hewes Design Awards, and Outer Critics Circle. Daniele also received a Callaway Award nomination for choreography. A cast recording was released by Ghostlight Records in July 2006.

The UK premiere opened at the Union Theatre in London on 23 August 2011, produced by Triptic.[3] The production was directed by Katherine Hare with musical direction by Leigh Thompson and choreography by Racky Plews. This production received a positive response from UK based critics. "SIMPLY ELECTRIC... a rather unique but unmissable piece of theatre.' ThePublicReviews.com [4]

Casts[edit]

Original 2006 New York cast

  • Phylicia Rashad – Bernarda Alba
  • Saundra Santiago – Angustias
  • Judith Blazer – Magdalena
  • Sally Murphy – Amelia
  • Daphne Rubin-Vega – Martirio
  • Nikki M. James – Adela
  • Yolande Bavan – Maria Josepha
  • Candy Buckley – Poncia
  • Nancy Ticotin – Servant/Prudencia
  • Laura Shoop – Young Maid

Original 2011 London cast

  • Beverley Klein – Bernarda Alba
  • Sophie Jugé – Angustias
  • Soophia Foroughi – Magdalena
  • Emily-Jane Morris – Amelia
  • Rebecca Trehearn – Martirio
  • Amelia Adams-Pearce – Adela [5]
  • Buster Skeggs – Maria Josepha
  • Ellen O’grady – Poncia
  • Suanne Braun – Servant/Prudencia
  • Maria Coyne – Young Maid

Synopsis[edit]

In the early 1930s in a village in the south of Spain, the head of the all-female household is Bernarda Alba. She has 5 daughters as well as her elderly mother, Maria Josepha. Antonio, her husband has unexpectedly died, leaving Bernarda with the duties of taking care of the household and stables.

Musical numbers[edit]

  • Prologue
  • The Funeral
  • On the Day that I Marry
  • Bernarda's Prayer
  • Love, Let Me Sing You
  • Let Me Go To The Sea
  • Magdalena
  • Angustias
  • Amelia
  • Martirio
  • Adela
  • I Will Dream of What I Saw
  • Poncia
  • Limbrada's Daughter
  • One Moorish Girl
  • The Smallest Stream
  • The Mare and the Stallion
  • Lullaby
  • Open the Door
  • Finale

Analysis[edit]

The characters sing the story as in an opera. One motif, of "barrenness and unappeasable longing" is seen in the production’s design. For example, armless wooden chairs are lined against the back white stone wall, with its large door shut against the world. "When Bernarda draws the bolt, a sense of airlessness immediately descends over the daughters, illogical as this seems."[6]

"LaChiusa and Daniele are determined to illustrate passion as vividly as possible in what is being called a musical but could just as easily be described as a dance piece with singing, an oratorio, or performance art. It's a beautifully seamless fusion of all these influences."[7]

Response[edit]

Ben Brantley, reviewing for the New York Times, wrote, "This latest offering from the prolific Mr. LaChiusa, often feels wan and weary...The music, though superbly orchestrated (by Michael Starobin) and played, goes places that singers used to hard-sell Broadway pizazz cannot follow. The punctuating yelps; the wavering sustained notes in minor keys; the labyrinthine interior musical paths; the eruptions into antimelodic harshness — these are all more the stuff of mid-20th-century chamber operas than conventional show tunes...The touchingly game performers, who include musical pros like Daphne Rubin-Vega (a haunting presence as the ugly daughter) and Yolande Bavan (as Bernarda's senile mother), inevitably stumble over such challenges."[8]

The Curtain Up reviewer noted, "Graciela Daniele's direction and choreography bring out the vivid flamenco rhythm that flavors the score. The daughters' solo arias beautifully express their individual personalities. Despite it requiring a stretch to accept the pretty Daphne Rubin-Vega as the family ugly duckling, her voice and poignant acting stand out...audiences are likely to be split between those who will love its art-y gloominess and those (this critic among them) for whom it's less exhilarating than such LaChiusa works as See What I Want to See..."[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Simonson, Robert. "LaChiusa's Bernarda Alba to Close at Lincoln Center Theater April 9", Playbill, 2006-04-09. Retrieved on 2008-03-04.
  2. ^ Bernarda Alba Lincoln Center listing lct.org, accessed July 26, 2009
  3. ^ "Triptic is delighted to announce its new production 'Bernarda Alba'" triptictheatre.com
  4. ^ "SIMPLY ELECTRIC... a rather unique but unmissable piece of theatre.'" ThePublicReviews.com
  5. ^ "Interview with Amelia Adams Pearce, LastMinuteTheatreTickets.com, July 29, 2012
  6. ^ Nichols, Nina."Bernarda Alba" culturevulture.net, March 15, 2006
  7. ^ Finkle, David."Bernarda Alba" theatermania.com, March 7, 2006
  8. ^ Brantley, Ben."Theatre Review: Bernarda Alba, Sex and a Monster Mother Seething in Sunny Spain,"The New York imes, March 7, 2006
  9. ^ Sommer, Elyse."A CurtainUp Review: Bernarda Alba", curtainup.com, March 8, 2006

External links[edit]