Osvaldo Golijov
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Ainadamar (2003): Reviews
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From: Opera News (Willard Spiegelman)

The Tanglewood audience exploded after Golijov's tuneful, lush and dramatically nuanced Ainadamar, based on the life of Margarita Xirgu, who made a career performing the title role of Garcia Lorca's play Mariana Pineda, about a nineteenth-century political martyr. The opera possesses both symmetry and depth. Its three scenes move from the aging Margarita, recalling her first meeting with the youthful playwright; through a reenactment of his murder by the Fascists during the Spanish Civil War; to her own death, thirty years later, and her realization that she has triumphantly given voice to both Lorca and Mariana Pineda. In a secular rather than a religious way, Ainadamar traces a path to transcendence.

...Golijov's expressive score was, throughout, rich and expansive... Robert Spano brought out its flamenco and folk tonalities and coaxed his superb youthful musicians into building the music to heights and depths of romantic passion. Like the music, David Henry Hwang's libretto (written in English and translated by the composer into Spanish) develops along strict architectonic lines. The piece begins and ends with a folk ballad ("It was sad in Granada"). At the climax, following Lorca's murder, Margarita acknowledges that she has "remained behind to be your voice." ...The opera (like Tosca, Adriana Lecouvreur, Capriccio and Ariadne auf Naxos) succeeds in part because it treats the phenomenon of performance itself as a subject and as an occasion for performance.

The singers, both young and mature, triumphed. As the older Margarita, Dawn Upshaw added a new string to her bow. She made her character reflective and passionate, wistful, uncertain and then confident, by turns. Her lower voice has gained an especially resonant strength. She was joined by the wonderful young mezzo Kelley O'Connor as Lorca, and, as Margarita's younger self, by the equally effective Amanda Forsythe... in Golijov the superb vocal writing for three female voices in unison recalls Strauss's triumph in Der Rosenkavalier, however different the story and orchestration.

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