GOLIJOV Ainadamar / Upshaw, Spano


Ainadamar -
Fountain of Tears
Dawn Upshaw · Kelley O'Connor
Jessica Rivera · Jesus Montoya
Ladies of the Atlanta Symphony Chorus
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Robert Spano
Int. Release 01 Sep. 2006
0289 477 6165 5
Osvaldo Golijov unveils his debut opera Ainadamar (featuring Dawn Upshaw) on his second world-premiere recording for Deutsche Grammophon

Track List

Osvaldo Golijov (1960 - )

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, Jeremy Flower

Act 1: Mariana


Dawn Upshaw, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, Ladies of the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Norman Mackenzie

Dawn Upshaw, Jessica Rivera, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, Ladies of the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Norman Mackenzie

Dawn Upshaw, Kelley O'Connor, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano

Kelley O'Connor, Dawn Upshaw, Jessica Rivera, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano

Jesús Montoya, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano

Act 2: Federico


Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, Ladies of the Atlanta Symphony Chorus

Dawn Upshaw, Jessica Rivera, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano


Kelley O'Connor, Dawn Upshaw, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano


Jesús Montoya, Dawn Upshaw, Kelley O'Connor, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, Ladies of the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Norman Mackenzie

Dawn Upshaw, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, Ladies of the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Norman Mackenzie


Kelley O'Connor, Eduardo Chama, Robb Asklof, Sean Mayer, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, Norman Mackenzie, Ladies of the Atlanta Symphony Chorus

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano

Act 3: Margarita


Dawn Upshaw, Jessica Rivera, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, Ladies of the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Norman Mackenzie

Kelley O'Connor, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano


Jessica Rivera, Dawn Upshaw, Kelley O'Connor, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, Ladies of the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Norman Mackenzie

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, Ladies of the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Norman Mackenzie


Dawn Upshaw, Jessica Rivera, Kelley O'Connor, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano

Dawn Upshaw, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Spano, Ladies of the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Norman Mackenzie

Total Playing Time 1:20:16

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.


Golijov's Deep Song

Ainadamar means "fountain of tears" in Arabic. It is the name of an ancient well near Granada, where, in August 1936, during the early stages of the Spanish Civil War, the poet Federico García Lorca was killed by Fascist Falangist forces. Osvaldo Golijov's opera Ainadamar is centered around the scene of the poet's murder, but its main character is the Catalan tragedian Margarita Xirgu, who collaborated with Lorca on several of his plays. The story begins in Uruguay, in 1969, as Xirgu is about to perform the lead role in Lorca's Mariana Pineda, the tale of a revolutionary martyr from another century. She is haunted by memories of Lorca, by the thought that she might have saved him. By the end, she has surrendered to the strange beauty of fate, and she bequeathes her longing for freedom to her students. The opera ends as it began, with the prophetic Ballad of Mariana Pineda: "How sad it was in Granada. / The stones began to cry."

Lorca was among the most musical of poets - an accomplished pianist, a part-time composer, something of a musicologist. He supplied countless cues for music in his writing; in one poem he compared the crescent moon to a fermata, a held note in the harmony of the night. In 1922 he worked with the composer Manuel de Falla to stage a festival of cante jondo, or "deep song", as the most substantial branch of flamenco is known. Of the siguiriya form of cante jondo, Lorca memorably wrote, "The melody begins, an undulant, endless melody. [It] loses itself horizontally, escapes from our hands as we see it withdraw from us toward a point of common longing and perfect passion." This is the mood to which Ainadamar aspires. Indeed, when Golijov was younger, he read those sentences in Lorca, and cherished them as a musical ideal.

Golijov grew up in Argentina, the son of Eastern European Jews. He has made his name with an arresting sequence of works which honor his multiple homelands; Yiddishbuk, for string quartet, combines avant-garde techniques with Hebraic motifs; the St. Mark Passion mobilizes an army of Latin-American styles; the song cycle Ayre, which Dawn Upshaw has also recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, weaves together Sephardic, Spanish and Arabic melodies. Ainadamar is properly saturated in Spanish music, particularly Lorca's beloved flamenco, but rival influences are felt throughout, just as Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions once mingled on the Iberian peninsula.

The most striking aspect of Golijov's work is not what he assimilates but how he does it. Early in the 20th century, the likes of Falla, Janáèek, Bartók, Stravinsky and Villa-Lobos infused their music with folk material, bending their notation to make room for informal expression. Golijov goes a step farther; he routinely collaborates with folk and popular musicians, leaving room for improvisation in his scores, and he seeks out classical performers who are willing to roughen up their conservatory-trained techniques. His work hovers on the border between notated and oral traditions. It remains, however, a fiercely personal vision, the outward echoing of a solitary voice.

Ainadamar was given its premiere at the Tanglewood Music Festival in the summer of 2003. The score was bewitching throughout, but the dramatic effect was at times diffuse. Subsequently, Golijov worked with his librettist, the playwright David Henry Hwang, to make extensive revisions. Peter Sellars, who directed Ainadamar at the Santa Fe Opera in 2005, had a decisive impact on the final version. Most of the original score was retained, but the narrative was tightened. Before, Xirgu shared the stage with a younger version of herself; now she converses with her student Nuria, who resolves to carry on her work. Also, there is a new sequence in which Margarita tries to persuade Lorca to go with her to Cuba. Lorca's refusal is the turning point of the piece; he knowingly seals his doom. In the process of revision, a dreamlike, meditative piece took on political bite and fervor, as befits a Sellars production.

The opera begins with taped sounds of gurgling water, evoking Ainadamar. These give way to galloping hoofbeats, which recall the horse flight of the bride and her lover in Lorca's Blood Wedding. The trumpet plays a rising, trembling figure, which Sellars calls the "call of wounded freedom". Then, percussionists pick up the beat, a chorus of six girls cry out the Ballad from Mariana Pineda, Xirgu enters on a long held note (D natural against B flat minor), and a flamenco fury unfolds. Then, as Xirgu's mind drifts back to the opening night of the play, the orchestra falls into a languid rumba rhythm, and time suspends. Lorca, sung by a mezzo-soprano, is given stately, ornate music, reaching back to bel canto and the Baroque. The trance-like atmosphere is shattered by a thrilling, terrifying sound - Ruiz Alonso, the man who ordered Lorca's death, crying "Bring him to me!" ("Muerte a caballo"), in florid flamenco style. The great irony of Ainadamar is that the villain of the piece is the one most steeped in "deep song".

The central sequence, devoted to Lorca's arrest and death, begins with a frenzied, dissonant reprise of Mariana's Ballad. Xirgu's attempt to save Lorca takes the form of a lurid musical tourist brochure for Cuba, replete with mention of "naked black angels" and "the agony of impossible sex" (Lorca was homosexual). Over slashing strings, Lorca announces his intention to "stay among the dead, singing my immense song". After Ruiz Alonso resumes his fatal cantillation, Lorca goes to his death in muted, rapt tones. Golijov incorporates, to heart-stopping effect, his 2001 piece K'in Sventa Ch'ul Me'tik Kwadalupe; over a recording of indigenous Mexicans chanting to the Virgin of Guadalupe, strings and marimbas play a broken chorale, and the Falange's victims protest their innocence. The famous poet disappears into the anonymous crowd of the doomed. A brutal electronic fugue of repeating gunshots describes the murder itself.

At the start of the final section, despair hangs heavy, and the energy of the Ballad seems spent. But when Lorca rematerializes to absolve Xirgu, there is a telling harmonic change. Whenever Ruiz Alonzo enters in prior scenes, the bass line chillingly slips down from D to C sharp. Now, the assassin is undercut; the bass slides down to C, and over this pedal-tone the final episodes unfold. There are two great swells for orchestra, describing the delirium of sunset and the ragged march of liberty. The lead voices intertwine in ethereal trios. At the end, the chief motifs of the opera recur, floating in from another world: Mariana's crying ballad, the chords of Granada's weeping stones, the trumpet's wounded fanfare. Golijov strikes his point of common longing and perfect passion.
Alex Ross



Peter Sellars

Emerging from darkness, the mythic world of Federico García Lorca comes into being. The sound of horses on the wind, the endless flow of the fountain of tears ("Ainadamar"), and the trumpet call of wounded freedom, the aspiration and determination that have been denied generation after generation echo across the hills.

First Image: MARIANA

Teatro Solís, Montevideo, Uruguay, April 1969. The voices of little girls sing the opening ballad of Lorca's play Mariana Pineda. The actress Margarita Xirgu looks back across 40 years since she gave the premiere of this daring play by a brilliant young author. In the last minutes of the last day of her life, she tries to convey to her brilliant young student Nuria the fire, the passion, and the hope of her generation that gave birth to the Spanish Republic. She flashes back to her first meeting with Lorca in a bar in Madrid.

Lorca tells her that the freedom in his play is not only political freedom, and sings a rhapsodic aria that opens the world of imagination, a world inspired by the sight of the statue of Mariana Pineda that he saw as a child in Granada. Mariana was martyred in 1831 for sewing a revolutionary flag and refusing to reveal the names of the revolutionary leaders, including her lover. Her lover deserted her, and she wrote a serenely composed final letter to her children explaining her need to die with dignity.

Margarita reflects on the parallel fates of Mariana and Federico. The reverie is shattered by the call of Ramón Ruiz Alonso, the falangist who arrested executed Lorca in August of 1936.

Second Image: FEDERICO

The ballad of Mariana Pineda sounds again, taking Margarita back to the summer of 1936, the last time she saw Federico. The young Spanish Republic is under attack: the rising of the right wing generals has begun, there are daily strikes and massacres. Margarita's theatre company is embarking on a tour of Cuba. She begs Federico to come. He decides to go home to Granada instead, to work on new plays and poetry.

No one knows the details of Lorca's murder. Margarita has a vision of his final hour: the opportunist Ruiz Alonso arresting Lorca in Granada and leading him to the solitary place of execution, Ainadamar, the fountain of tears, with a bullfighter and a teacher. The three of them are made to confess their sins. Then they are shot. 2137 people were murdered in Granada between 26 July 1936 and 1 March 1939. The death of Lorca was an early signal to the world.

Third Image: MARGARITA

For the third time we hear the ballad of Mariana Pineda. One more time the play is about to begin, the story retold for the generation of Margarita's Latin American students. Margarita knows she is dying. She cannot make her entrance, others must go on. As her heart gives way, she tells Nuria that an actor lives for a moment, that an actor's individual voice is silenced, but that the hope of a people will not die. The fascists have ruled Spain for more than 30 years. Franco has never permitted Margarita Xirgu, the image of freedom, to set foot on Spanish soil. Margarita has kept the plays of Lorca alive in Latin America while they were forbidden in Spain.

The spirit of Lorca enters the room. He takes Margarita's hand, and he takes Nuria's hand. Together they enter a blazing sunset of delirious, visionary transformation. Margarita dies, offering her life to Mariana Pineda's final lines: "I am freedom." Her courage, her clarity, and her humanity are passed on to Nuria, her students, and the generations that follow. She sings "I am the fountain from which you drink." We drink deeply.