El amor brujo
El amor brujo (Love, the Magician, rarely translated as Wedded by Witchcraft) is a piece of music originally composed by Manuel de Falla for a chamber group, then re-scored as a symphonic suite, and eventually as a ballet. The texts were by Gregorio Martínez Sierra.
The work is distinctively Andalusian in character with the songs in the Andalusian Spanish dialect of the Gypsies. The music contains moments of remarkable beauty and originality; it includes the celebrated Ritual Fire Dance, Cancion del Fuego Fatuo (Will-o'-the-Wisp) and the Dance of Terror.
Versions and performance history
El amor brujo was commissioned in 1914 as a gitanería (gypsy piece) by Pastora Imperio, a renowned flamenco gypsy dancer. It was scored for cantaora voice, actors and chamber orchestra and performed at the Teatro Lara, Madrid, on 15 April, 1915, unsuccessfully.
The following year, Falla revised the work for symphony orchestra, in two cuadros, with three short songs for mezzo-soprano. This version was performed on 28 March, 1916, by the Madrid Symphony Orchestra under Enrique Fernández Arbós.
In 1924 Falla finished a transformation of El amor brujo into a one-act 'ballet pantomímico'; it is in this version that the work is best known to this day. Published by Chester, the ballet was given in Paris the next year (1925) and by the Philadelphia Civic Opera Company at Philadelphia's Metropolitan Opera House on March 17, 1927, with mezzo-soprano Kathryn Noll and conductor Alexander Smallens.
Later, possibly as late as 1930, the composer arranged a suite for piano solo (catalog G. 69) of four movements from the 1924 ballet: Pantomima; Danza del terror; Romance del pescador; and Danza ritual del fuego.
El amor brujo is the story of a young Andalusian gypsy girl called Candela. As a girl, she was promised to be married to another man (then a boy), although her affections are directed to Carmelo. After many years Candela's husband has died (at the hands of Lucía's husband) but he continues to haunt his wife.
The entire village knows about the haunting but still brands Candela as crazy because she dances every night with him (Danza del terror). Candela, now a widow, is free to establish a relationship with Carmelo, but continues to being haunted by her husband.
After a conversation with other women of the village, Candela finally comes to realise that her husband was unfaithful to her, despite all the efforts that she did to make their marriage work.
Candela and Carmelo get advice that a ritual dance is necessary to cast the ghost off (Danza ritual del fuego), but it does not work. The ghost is obsessed with Candela's soul.
Candela manages to trick Lucía to come that night, with the excuse of hooking her up with Carmelo. As she turns up, the nightly ritual of Candela's dance with her husband begins, but at the last moment Candela moves away from her husband and Lucía is taken away by her now dead lover (Danza del juego de amor).
Dawn breaks, Candela and Carmelo are now truly free to enjoy their love.
- Introducción y escena ('Introduction and scene')
- En la cueva ('In the cave')
- Canción del amor dolido ('Song of suffering love')
- El aparecido (El espectro) ('The apparition')
- Danza del terror ('Dance of terror')
- El círculo mágico (Romance del pescador) ('The magic circle')
- A media noche: los sortilegios
- Danza ritual del fuego ('Ritual fire dance')
- Escena ('Scene')
- Canción del fuego fatuo ('Song of the will-o'-the-wisp')
- Pantomima ('Pantomime)
- Danza del juego de amor ('Dance of the game of love')
- Final – las campanas del amanecer ('Finale – the bells of sunrise')
Chamber music version (1915)
- 1991: Josep Pons with the orchestra of the Teatre Lliure, 'cantaora' Ginesa Ortega. Harmonia Mundi HMC905213
- 1946 (February 5): Fritz Reiner with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Contralto Carol Brice. Columbia Masterworks MM-633 (3 12" 78 RPM discs); Also Columbia LP ML-2006.
- 1953: Ataúlfo Argenta with the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, mezzo-soprano Ana-Maria Iriarte. EMI 7243 5 69235 2 2
- 1955: Ernest Ansermet with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, mezzo-soprano Marina de Gabarain, Decca 417 691–2
- 1960: Leopold Stokowski with the Philadelphia Orchestra, mezzo-soprano Shirley Verrett-Carter, Columbia MS 6147
- 1966: Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos with the New Philharmonia Orchestra, mezzo-soprano Nati Mistral, Decca 417 786–2
- ? Carlo Maria Giulini with the Philharmonia Orchestra, soprano Victoria de los Ángeles EMI 7 69 037 2
- 1978 Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro with the London Symphony Orchestra, mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza, Deutsche Grammophon 429181-2
- 1996 Edmon Colomer with the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona, 'cantaora' Esperanza Fernandez. Valois Auvidis V 4768.
In 1967 Francisco Rovira Beleta directed a film version. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but lost to Jiří Menzel's Closely Observed Trains. However it won the "National Syndicate of Spectacle, Spain" award.
In 1986, Spanish director Carlos Saura directed El amor brujo based on the ballet, starring, and choreographed by, Antonio Gades. It was the third in his trilogy of dance films, following Bodas de sangre (Blood Wedding) and Carmen. The film filled out the story with spoken dialogue, but nevertheless used the entire score of the ballet, along with additional songs and dances performed by characters in the film. The Orquesta Nacional de España was conducted by Jesús López-Cobos, and the cante jondo singer heard on the soundtrack was the late Rocío Jurado. A soundtrack album, now out of print, was issued by EMI.
- An essay on El amor brujo by Peter Gutmann, accessed 25 December 2009
- El amor brujo from the Martha Argerich Project
- YouTube: Ritual Fire Dance from El amor brujo, accessed 25 December 2009
- Libretto on Spanish Wikisource, accessed 25 December 2009
- Notes on El Amor Brujo by Sato Moughalian, Artistic Director, Perspectives Ensemble