GOLIJOV Ainadamar / Upshaw, Spano 4776165

The event of the year . . . Golijov's sound -- a personal mix involving Yiddish melody and Latin American dance rhythms -- flows joyously, till it's no longer heard but only felt, like a pulse or an electrical current.

At first blush, a new opera meditating on the life and death of Spanish poet/playwright Federico Garcia Lorca seems an unlikely choice to be a chart hit. However, Osvaldo Golijov's "Ainadamar" is precisely that . . . Amid his gorgeous lyrical lines and brilliantly colored orchestration, Golijov embroiders the guitar and cante jondo ("deep song") idioms of traditional flamenco with lilting Afro-Cuban grooves and hypnotic field recordings made in Chiapas, Mexico . . . Upshaw's enthusiasm seems to be shared by audiences, programmers and critics alike.

Golijov is exceedingly modest, but he is one of the few composers today whose works are profoundly shifting the geography of the classical music world . . . sliding among genres the way other composers modulate to different keys, yet his works move brilliantly beyond collage . . . Golijov's works jump off the stage with rhythm and passion; they swing seamlessly from the earthy to the sublime and tap rich veins of lyricism. Over a few short years, and while still young, he has emerged as a major energizing force in a classical world in need of a new vision . . .

(Ainadamar). . . an arresting work of history and reverie about the Spanish writer Federico García Lorca, his loves, his legacy and his murder at the hands of Franco's forces during the Spanish Civil War . . ."Ainadamar" does not linger on the tragedy of Lorca's death. In the final scene, memories of violence and suffering drift away as the three female voices come together in a lush Straussian trio. It is a bold theatrical gesture that Golijov makes without hesitation.

No one writing music today crosses stylistic barriers with more lyrical bravado and sheer compositional nerve than Osvaldo Golijov.

Osvaldo Golijov's beautiful "Ainadamar" will be heard for the first time here and is not to be missed . . . focus exclusively on the music -- and the singing in particular of Dawn Upshaw and Kelley O'Connor, both quite wonderful.

"Ainadamar" has proved outstanding, both on the theater and on this splendid disc. Hwang's episodic text (and indeed the opera itself) is nonrealistic, poetic and deliberately repetitive . . . Closely miked, Dawn Upshaw flourishes in her still-girlish upper-middle voice, and manages convincing rendition of deep-lying cante jondo inflections, as well as suggestions of simmering temperament. Kelly O'Connor, singing superbly in duskily fresh, androgynous contralto, makes a moving Lorca. Mezzo Jennifer Rivera soars warmly as Margarita's student, Nuria. All told, Golijov's opera stands high among this decade's more persuasive and moving new musical-theater works.

. . . beautifully produced . . . beguiling sensuality and original, compelling drama that relates art to politically frightful times, distant from but not entirely unlike our own . . . so powerful a vocal and dramatic presence is Dawn Upshaw's Xirgu that we experience Lorca's death through her own. Golijov . . . has become famous for his Latin charisma, which is once more splashed all over this enormously appealing and highly theatrical score . . . Kelly O'Connor, a dark, alluring mezzo who was plucked from the USC student vocal program to create the role of Lorca, is a find. And the conductor, Robert Spano, gets lovingly inside the music.

. . . the most famous and successful composer of his generation . . . Golijov has the gift of creating memorable melody, of propelling events forward through pulsing and intricately layered rhythms. He can create an atmosphere, a color, a tinta, to use Verdi's word. The work has an airless, dreamlike, hallucinatory quality.

The melodies shiver with erotic intervals and scales; bittersweet half-steps weep with sundrenched nostalgia and the soul of Spain. Arias of languid beauty are interrupted by exuberant outbursts of rhythm, orchestral color and violence. The inventive orchestration finds room for the improvisatory wail of an authentic flamenco singer, guitars and a heart-stopping passage of rhythmically layered gunshots . . . Soprano Dawn Upshaw, at ease with sumptuous melodic lines and folk idioms, gives a ravishing and focused portrayal of Margarita. In the trouser role of Lorca, mezzo Kelley O'Connor sings with an intense lyricism. As Margarita's student Nuria, soprano Jessica Rivera makes a fine impression. Robert Spano conducts with authority . . . this is an opera that deserves a place in the repertory ¿ immediately.

"There's an honesty and a beauty in his music. Working with him has put me in a position where I am looking at my own life and my own music in a different way, and I am asking myself different questions, because I'm so moved by what he is doing." (Dawn Upshaw)

. . . music of dark beauty and rare authority . . . Golijov's most gripping and durable work to date . . . Throughout the fast-flowing opera, Golijov's genius ripples and roils, with the ASO augmented by flamenco guitarists and percussionists ¿ creating a sound world at once familiar, enticing and deeply unsettling . . . It's Golijov's masterpiece, destined to be among the great musical achievements of our time.

. . . all that star power never outhshines the raw emotion of this CD . . . Her [O'Connor's] lusty, androgynous voice is a real find.

The electronic elements are masterfully conceived, starting from the opening scene, which turns the sounds of galloping horses into rat-a-tat counterpoint. If I remain baffled by "Ainadamar," the performers on the Deutsche Grammophon recording seem enthralled with the work. There are brave and vulnerable performances from the soprano Dawn Upshaw, a Golijov champion . . . The conductor Robert Spano draws a vivid performance, by turns incisive, rhapsodic and expansive, from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus . . . here is an opera that pushes the dramatic boundaries of the genre, boldly mixing real time with remembered and transfigured scenes from the intertwined lives of its characters.

. . . the music is wholeheartedly emotional and sometimes vigorous, it tends to meditation more than action . . . It is dazzlingly presented: guitars and percussion, Jesús Montoya's flamenco improvisations and Kelley O'Connor's startling low mezzo as the poet, Dawn Upshaw's brilliance and tonal generosity as Xirgu, all rest on glowing orchestral colours and cunning production.

Osvaldo Golijov . . . possesses one of the most distinctive and immediately appealing compositional gifts to come along in some time. His sure dramatic instincts are apparent in "Ainadamar" . . . presented with the strongest possible advocacy by a cast featuring Dawn Upshaw and supported by the musically omnivorous Robert Spano and his Atlanta forces . . . Golijov's advanced tonal language, infused with Latin/Iberian and Middle Eastern elements, is irresistible . . . Upshaw sings with sweep, tremendous emotional range and linguistic security . . . DG's sound is dynamic and timbrally smooth . . .

"Ainadamar" has enjoyed success on stage but here proves a real 'opera of the imagination'. It is dazzlingly presented: guitars and percussion, Jesús Montoya's flamenco improvisations and Kelley O'Connor's startling low mezzo as the poet, Dawn Upshaw's brilliance and tonal generosity as Xirgu, all rest on glowing orchestral colours and cunning production.

``Ainadamar¿¿ is imaginative, original, compelling. This recording should really get your blood circulating . . . One of today¿s most talked-about composers . . . the music really cooks. Golijov writes brilliantly for the voice. He mixes styles and instruments like a master chef . . . The singing is equally spectacular. Soprano Dawn Upshaw brilliantly projects the lead role of Margarita Xirgu with sparkling tone, vivid expression and such a sure grasp of the idiom that I initially thought it must be a Spanish singer.

. . . I find his Lorca-inspired new opera stunning . . . It feels immediate, fresh and relevant.

[James H. North]: . . . I was so shattered by Golijov's music . . . The music was stunning, indescribable. I was on a high for weeks, telling anyone who would listen that this was the best new opera in half a century . . . On this disc, the magic is back . . . The performance is as mesmerizing as the music. Dawn Upshaw has become the dramatic singer of our day, pushed by Golijov's demanding music, much of which was written for her . . . ["Ainadamar"] demands a wide range of vocal technique, in moods coarse as well as subtle: Upshaw delivers them all convincingly and with much beauty of sound, over an astonishingly wide range . . . Kelley O'Connor does admirably, and all the supporting forces, live and electronic, are most effective . . . the haunting atmosphere of Golijov and Hwang's opera is beautifully captured . . . I cannot imagine any other composer going so far in so many direction. And yet it all comes together into a single, saturated whole. In this new century of globalization on all fronts ¿ political, commercial, and cultural ¿ we have at last a truly international composer, one to whom no one else can be compared . . . Like Beethoven and Stravinsky, Golijov is breaking new ground. Perhaps future generations will look back on "Ainadamar" as the "Eroica" and "Le sacre du printemps" of the 21st century.
[Robert Carl]: . . . I've always admired his imagination, deep musicality, and multicultural grasp . . . I find it enormously inventive, stunning in the risks taken and met . . . Overall this is a triumph . . . Golijov's music is most of the time stunning . . . It's visceral, and doesn't sound like pseudo-flamenco. When the music gets quiet, it can also be overwhelming . . . there's a vocal quartet that bespeaks both consolation and terror, nearly Mozartian in inspiration . . . The performances are at the level of the art. The three female principles . . . are deft in their vocal characterizations and passionate without pushing into diva excess. All the other performers stand out as selfless members of the ensemble, with no weak links. And Spano obviously loves this music, exercising just the right level of control to project its strength without reining in its feverish energy . . . Above all, this is the first Golijov piece where I hear not just a deeply talented composer, but a great spirit emerging.

First and foremost, a bouquet to DG for having the courage to record "Ainadamar" as an act of faith in one of the most intriguing among a younger generation of international composers . . . Dawn Upshaw, who has forged a deep bond with Golijov's music, is Margarita Xirgu. It's a commanding performance of a role that was written in a way that allows Upshaw to display her special vocal gifts. How does she produce that extraordinary flattened tone in the final trio when Margarita is dying? And could any singer have been more seductive in 'A là Habana' . . . O'Connor, she could wring tears from the stoniest Andalucian landscape in 'De mi fuente tú emerges', her last blessing on Margarita. With a dearth of musical bricks to work with, Jessica Rivera as Nuria, the faithful pupil, tries her hardest to build a character out of straw . . . the music too is irresistible and "sui generis" . . . listen to they rhythmic energy from those guitars in the interlude 'Crepúsculo delirante' or the melody that underpins Lorca's confession when it's shadowed on the vibraphone. It's original; it's affecting; and it won't let you go.

. . . a superb collaboration . . . To my ears it is Golijov¿s best score yet, and by far the most compelling in its cohesiveness; he saturates the sound work in a gypsy-flamenco idiom, which conjures up an overwhelming atmosphere of sultry claustrophobia perfect for the subject matter. The performances are superb, especially Dawn Upshaw as Margarita Xirgu . . .

Speaking of opera, Osvaldo Golijov¿s ¿Ainadamar¿ is on the list . . . because at last I¿ve found a piece of his I can be genuinely enthusiastic about, and I¿d like to celebrate that. It¿s also nicer to hear an American work that is not a rehash of a film or novel. The opera is a shattering portrait of the intersecting passions of art, human love, and politics.

Dawn Upshaw has championed Golijov's music before on disc (the song cycle "Ayre") and is a powerfully emotive and sensually lyrical Margarita. She's supported by a strong cast and the versatile Robert Spano. "Ainadamar" is immediately engaging, incorporating Latin, Middle Eastern, and pop influences, as well as electronica.

Pride of place in 2006, indeed for the 21st century, goes to Osvaldo Golijov's "Ainadamar". Golijov makes totally new, original music from aold traditions, and I find "Ainadamar" to be the most moving opera since Berg, Janácek, and "Peter Grimes".

This unique, 80-minute opera must be heard . . . the whole piece is sheer poetry. This is stunning.

Golijov shows here why he's such a hot property. The opera is a free-floating biography of Federico García Lorca, with a Latin-influenced, alternately exalted and brutal score that's so vibrant it feels dangerous, like a religious rite that could take you to hell as well as heaven.

A major contemporary voice, Golijov writes vibrantly colored, rhythmically charged and melodically swooning music that pulsates with flamenco and other folk sources. His opera, a memory play about Catalan actress Margarita Xirgu, shivers with eroticism and the soul of Spain.

Upshaw sings with great versatility, bringing a pop-style gustiness to the more assertive Latin numbers but also the transparency of tone we associate with her in the opera house; her ethereal singing of "adios" at the close of the trio is especially touching. O'Connor's lower register gets a workout in impersonating Lorca, and she makes a fine moment of Lorca's haunting song about gazing at statue of Mariana. Jessica Rivera's soprano has the right youthful purity for Nuria's music. And Robert Spano lets the opera's exuberance soar while ensuring that its introspective moments tell.

What audiences will see and hear is an exceptionally poignant and multifaceted work that has continued to evolve in subtle yet meaningful ways . . . A recording on the Deutsche Grammophon label won two Grammy awards this year.

Außer Frage steht Golijovs Talent als Vokalkomponist und Stimmmagier. Dawn Upshaw singt die Partie der Margarita mit einer überirdischen Leichtigkeit, zerbrechlichen, glasklaren Höhen und einem sonderbaren Gespür für Golijovs Vokaleffekte und Intervallsprünge. Kelly O'Connor ist ihr in der Partie des Lorca eine brillante Partnerin. Die junge Sängerin verfügt über eine gewaltige Palette an Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten, von der dunklen, erdenen, aber unwahrscheinlich ausgeglichenen und präsenten Tiefe, bis hin zu einer samt abgerundeten Oberlage. Jessica Rivera besticht mit ihrem jugendlich lyrischen Sopran. Robert Spano leitet das Atlanta Symphony Orchestra mit Leidenschaft und impulsiver Dynamik. Dass das alles andere als herkömmliche zeitgenössische Musik ist, liegt auf der Hand . . .

Osvaldo Golijov gilt als vielseitiger Klanggestalter zwischen vielen stilistischen Stühlen. Mit beiden Händen greift er in die Traditionen des Barock, des Mittelalters, er lässt sich von wiegenden Rhythmen Lateinamerikas ebenso inspirieren wie von uralten Gesängen der Sepharden ¿ dies jedoch alles andere als unbekümmert.

Die Solisten der mit dem Atlanta Symphony Orchestra unter Robert Spano produzierten Ersteinspielung von »Ainadamar« zumindest kosten jeden ton ihrer griffigen Parts aus. Vorweg Dawn Upshaw, die als Margarita alle Möglichkeiten nutzt, die zwischen pastellfarbener Grazie und pastoser Leuchtkraft changierende Ausdruckspalette der Rolle auszureizen. Jessica Rivera ist eine hellstimmige, engelgleiche Nuria, Kelley O'Connor setzt als Lorca mit nachtschwarzen Alt-Registern einen vokalen Kontrapunkt . . . Auch in der Alten Welt wird das Publikum wohl von Golijov wieder hingerissen sein.

Die als Mezzosopran (vorzüglich: Kelley O'Connor) angelegte Partie García Lorcas darf in neobarocken Belcantolinien schwelgen, die sich gelegentlich zu Flamenco-Verschlingungen verdichten . . . Daß Golijov sein Stilgemisch souverän beherrscht, steht außer Frage. Im Terzett der drei Frauenstimmen, mit Jessica Rivera als Nuria, beweist er auch kontrapunktische Künste.

Nicht nur dieser dramaturgische Kniff ist spektakulär, auch die Musik. Golijov bietet ein breites musikalisches Repertoire . . . Golijov hat eine unverwechselbare musikalische Sprache entwickelt . . . Wunderbar interpretiert werden diese melodischen Wechselbäder durch die schon erwähnte Dawn Upshaw und andere herausragende Sänger . . .

Le ton y est aussi éloquent que vigoureux, Osvaldo Golijov ménageant des passages d'un grand lyrisme pour son interprète-vedette . . . l'emploi du clavier numérique renforce le potentiel rythmique des instruments de l'orchestre. La richesse orchestrale et mélodique d'"Ainadamar" repose sur un équilibre quasi parfait . . . Dès lors, certains passages, directement liés au flamenco (cante jondo), au baroque, au bel canto ainsi qu'aux traditions juives et musulmanes, s'intègrent avec naturel à cet ouvrage, d'une facture brillamment composite. Merci à Robert Spano, chef accompli qui, à la tête de l'Orchestre symphonique d'Atlanta, nous fait découvrir et apprécier la dernière partition d'un des compositeurs les plus stimulants de sa génération.

L'aria de Lorca "à la statue de Mariana", magnifique nocturne, langoureux, mystérieux, distribue très astucieusement ses lentes notes aux tenues de cordes, pizzicatos de violoncelles et harpes. On comprend alors que Peter Sellars ait été séduit par cette partition simple et belle, dont il a contribué à remodeler le livret et la trame définitive.

Golijov funde maravillosamente la música cubana con el folklore gitano ... la música andaluza y sones profundamente latinos y árabes, logrando una partitura virtuosa en su mestizaje. Gran trabajo de la Sinfónica de Atlanta y su coro femenino, y también de Upshaw.

El resultado llega a ser fantasmagórico y de una gran tensión en el contenido. La belleza doliente de la voz de Dawn Upshaw eleva la categoría de esta première, mientras que Robert Spano logra dibujar con magia este flirteo entre la ópera y el flamenco en el que ambos se compenetran de forma insospechada.