Ainadamar means "Fountain of Tears" in Arabic, and is the first opera by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov. The libretto is by American playwright David Henry Hwang. It premiered in Tanglewood on August 10, 2003. After major revisions, the new version premiered at the Santa Fe Opera on July 30, 2005. It met its Chicago premiere at the Ravinia Festival on June 14, 2006, and recently was staged by Opera Boston in November 2007.
The opera tells the story of playwright Federico García Lorca and his lover and muse, Catalan actress Margarita Xirgu. A unique aspect of this opera is that the part of male Lorca is played by a woman. Subtitled "an Opera in Three Images," Ainadamar is told in reverse in a series of flashbacks, and involves Lorca's opposition to the Falange, accusations of homosexuality, and his subsequent murder.
The first recording came out on Deutsche Grammophon on May 9, 2006. It immediately sped to the top of the classical music Billboard charts. It was recorded by the artists for whom it was written, including Dawn Upshaw as Xirgu, Kelley O'Connor as Lorca, Jessica Rivera as Nuria, and conducted by Robert Spano with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and women of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus.
Both the recording and the opera met immediate critical acclaim. The recording has won two Grammy Awards: Best Opera Recording of 2006, and Best Classical Contemporary Composition. Like much of Golijov's work, the opera heavily incorporates Arab and Jewish idioms, as well as Spanish flamenco sounds — in fact, there is a flamenco guitar section incorporated into the orchestra.
Ainadamar has features of both an opera and a passion play, as it examines the powerful symbolic role Lorca has embodied after his death, especially among other artists. Lorca becomes a martyr in the name of freedom of artistic expression. The connections with the Baroque passion musical concept also occur structurally, as the work evolves as a series of arias, recurring choruses and dance genres. The symbolic aspect was emphasized visually by Peter Sellars in his staging for Santa Fe Opera. Ainadamar also connects with previous operatic traditions, like in the casting of Lorca as a trouser-role, in a manner parallel to other impetuous youths of opera, such as Cherubino or Octavian. These characteristics have allowed Ainadamar to begin a successful performance run as a non-staged or semi-staged concert work. Most critically, it appears that performances by a younger generation of singers may prompt an assimilation into the canon — and with it, an integration of the Ibero-American musical languages it spouses into Classical music — through upcoming presentations in major conservatories like the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music under Carmen Helena Téllez (2007) and the Curtis Institute of Music under Corrado Rovaris (2008).
|Margarita Xirgu, an actress||soprano||Dawn Upshaw|
|Federico García Lorca||mezzo-soprano||Kelley O'Connor|
|Nuria, a favorite student of Margarita||soprano||Jessica Rivera|
|Ruiz Alonso, a Falangist officer||voice||Jesús Montoya|
|José Tripaldi, a Falangist guard||baritone||Eduardo Chama|
|Maestro, a teacher||tenor||Sean Mayer|
|Torero, a bullfighter||tenor||Rob Asklof|