By John Farrell
Ainadamar is an unusual, indeed an almost unique work: a modern opera (written in this century) which has already received critical acclaim and won two Grammies for its recording.
Los Angeles oldest (and in some ways youngest) opera company is giving the work its first fully-staged production, at the Terrace Theatre of the Long Beach Performing Arts Center this week and next, and the production, by the same team that brought Ahknaten to that stage last year, should not be missed by any opera lovers.
Ainadmar is the name of the fountain near Granada (the name means “Fountain of Tears” in Arabic) where poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, one of Spain’s great poets, was murdered by Falangist soldiers during the Spanish revolution in 1936. (His grave was never found.)
With music by contemporary Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov and a text by David Henry Hwang, the work has been seen in New York and more recently at the Santa Fe Opera. It was given a semi-staged performance at the Ojai Festival in 2006 and was premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2004.
Originally scheduled for performance at the building which formerly housed the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the production was moved to the Terrace Theater when permits for performance at the outdoor setting were not available. Designed and directed by LBO’s Artistic Director Andreas Mitisek, it reunites him with video artist Frieder Weiss, whose work was spectacular in Ahknaten, and with Nannette Brodie and her Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre.
Ainadmar tells the story of Lorca’s death through the recollections of actress Margarita Xirgu, Lorca’s close friend (sung by soprano Suzan Hanson) and Xirgu’s pupil Nuria (soprano Ani Maldjian.) Mezzo-soprano Peabody Southwell sings the role of Lorca, and world-renowned Flamenco vocalist Jesus Montoya will sing Alfonso, the Falangist soldier who murders Lorca. Steven R. Osgood will conduct the Long Beach Opera Orchestra.
Well-known Long Beach lecturer Gregorio Luke will speak on Lorca and recite some of his poetry an hour before both performances, introduced by Mitisek.
Tickets are $29-$150. Performances are Sunday, May 20 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 28 at 8 p.m.
Details:(562) 432-5934, www.longbeachopera.org
Venue: Terrace Theater of the Long Beach Performing Arts Center
Location: 300 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach