Notes and Editorial Reviews
Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov is equally likely to use elements from classical, ethnic, or popular sources in his music. His opera Ainadamar fuses Spanish, Flamenco, Broadway, and classical elements seamlessly into a passionate 80-minute recollection of the death of Spanish Republican poet Federico Garcia Lorca and the life of actress Margarita Xirgu. (Ainadamar is the name of a famous fountain where García Lorca's assassination took place.) Xirgu was important in keeping Garcia Lorca's dramatic works alive in Latin America during the decades they were banned in Franco's Spain.
In this 2005 revision of the opera (in which Golijov and librettist David Henry Hwang tightened the dramatic structure on advice
from producer Peter Sellars) Xirgu waits in the wings of Montevideo's El Teatro Solís to perform the lead in Garcia Lorca's drama Mariana Pineda, Xirgu's most famous role. In conversation with her brilliant student Nuria, Xirgu begins mentally reliving the assassination and the days leading up to it. In the third of the opera's three "images", Xirgu dies, during a vision of reunion with Garcia Lorca. Nuria takes up Xirgu's--and Lorca's--legacy.
A chorus representing the actors onstage sings the ballad of Mariana Pineda to folk music quoted by Lorca himself. Xirgu's music tends to be operatic, though heavily tinged with Hispanic elements. Nuria's music is more popular, edging toward Broadway. Ruiz, the assassin, sings melodic lines that have a strong accent of the "deep song" of Flamenco. In addition, there are creative uses of pre-taped sounds: Gurgling waters and galloping horses' hooves open and close the opera, while at the middle the underscoring of the horrific firing squad scene includes Falangist radio broadcasts and loops of rifle shots. The terse dramatic structure and the use of passionate strains of Spanish music make for a compelling listening experience, after which you're sure that the opera must be overwhelming on stage.
Conductor Robert Spano's direction is incisive. All the supporting cast and chorus singers, as well as the players in the small orchestra, are first rate. But the star of the production is soprano Dawn Upshaw. Her performances in this role demolish her prior image as a cool, detached art song recitalist. This recording is close to mandatory listening for anyone interested in the evolving path of opera, as well as for those vocal music collectors interested in documenting pivotal roles in leading singers' careers.
This release also is available by download, which includes sound files of a 53-minute discussion of the opera by the composer and a lengthy program book. It sounds as good as the CD, and costs one-third less. CD buyers can hear the composer's discussion from a web site.
--Joseph Stevenson, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Ainadamar by Osvaldo Golijov
Kelley O'Connor (Mezzo Soprano),
Jessica Rivera (Soprano),
Jesús Montoya (Voice),
José Eduardo Chama (Baritone),
Sean Mayer (Tenor),
Robb Asklof (Tenor),
Anne Carolyn Bird (Soprano),
Sindhu Chandrasekaran (Soprano),
Gonzalo Grau (Congas),
Gonzalo Grau (Cajon Drums),
Jeremy Flower (Laptop),
Jeremy Flower (Sound Effects),
Adam Del Monte (Flamenco Guitar),
Dawn Upshaw (Soprano),
Gustavo Santaolalla (Sound Effects),
William Kanengiser (Guitar),
Andrew York (Guitar)
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,
Atlanta Symphony Chorus Women
Period: 20th Century
Date of Recording: 11/2005
Venue: Symphony Hall, Atlanta, Georgia
Length: 79 Minutes 59 Secs.
Notes: Composition written: USA (By 2003).
Composition revised: USA (By 2005).
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