Notes and Editorial Reviews
Set in the Basque homeland in the eighth century AD, Jesus Guridi's 1920 opera centres on the love triangle between Amaya, heiress to the Basque royal house, Asier, a local pagan prince and stepson of her aunt Amagoia (the local priestess), and Teodosio, the leading Christian prince and war-leader against the Arab invaders. Circumstances throw Amaya and Teodosio together, the latter seizing his chance to convert and marry her and thereby ascend the throne. Asier's vengeance is to fuel Teodosio's suspicions of Arnaya's infidelity. Storming back to his palace, he finds and slays a couple in his bedchamber, but on meeting Amaya is horrified to discover he has murdered his own parents. The Epilogue, Act 4 in all but title, takes place seven
years later when Teodosio's penance (to live as a hermit until the chain around his waist breaks) climaxes with his forgiveness of the mortally wounded Asier. As the latter expires, Teodosio's chain shatters and he is reunited with Amaya (who has been hiding nearby).
It is not hard to see why Amaya is effectively the national Basque opera. Guridi's music is full of good tunes and local colour, as in the Act 2 Sword Dance ('Espatadantza') or the irrintzi (war-cry) that opens the Third. Amaya is essentially Verdian in structure, but Guridi clearly learned from Wagner. There are also passing more contemporary resonances — Janii:ek in the wind writing in Act 1, or Sibelius in Act 2's prelude — but most of the music is strongly Guridi. There are some dramatic lapses, though: Amagoia's improbable mistaking of Teodosio for her own stepson in Act 1 or the Epilogue's pastoral opening conveying nothing of Teodosio's situation (the chorus, little used throughout, sounds barely supplicatory, let alone penitential). The soloists catty the drama — there are few real ensembles — with the orchestra, who perform with gusto, capably directed by Theo Alcantara. Rebecca Copley sings the title-role well enough, but like Marianne Cornetti (Amagoia) has little to do after the close of Act 2. Rosendo Flores audibly relishes the role of Asier, but it is that of Teodosio which comes to dominate, and Cesar Hernandez secures the main singing honours. Andrew Walton's recording is very clear.
-- Guy Richards, Gramophone [5/2001]
Works on This Recording
Amaya by Jesus Guridi
Marianne Cornetti (Mezzo Soprano),
Gorka Robles (Tenor),
Itxaro Mentxaka (Mezzo Soprano),
César Hernández (Tenor),
Rosendo Flores (Bass),
Rebecca Copley (Soprano),
Carlos Conde (Baritone),
Angel Pazos (Tenor)
Bilbao Choral Society,
Bilbao Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1920; Spain
Date of Recording: 06/1998
Venue: Arriaga Theater, Bilbao, Spain
Length: 136 Minutes 44 Secs.
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