Osvaldo Golijov
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Ainadamar (2003): Reviews
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From: Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Chris Shull)

Revolutionary music

Miguel Harth-Bedoya, music director of the Fort Worth Symphony, helped unveil a bold project Saturday night, when the Santa Fe Opera opened a production of "Ainadamar" by Argentine-American composer Osvaldo Golijov. Harth-Bedoya conducted and the staging was by avant-garde opera director Peter Sellars...

Golijov's music is memorable. Thrumming guitars and slapping percussion set up the hypnotic syncopation of Spanish dancing. Its mesmerizing melodies coursed in minor-mode flamenco style—sometimes lulling, sometimes shouting, but always writhing and falling. Every measure, even the defiant ending, was weighted by the angst of hope deferred.

The opera unfolds without pause. Xirgu recalls her youth with Garcia Lorca and her pain at being unable to persuade him to flee the war. Garcia Lorca (played by a woman, mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor) sings longingly of his native Granada. A Fascist soldier (Alex Richardson) angrily demands his surrender; another, (Scott Tomlinson) his absolution. The tableau of Garcia Lorca's execution recalls the Crucifixion; a teacher (Wade Thomas) and a bullfighter (Robb Asklof) die with him. Rifle shots are joined with a rhythmic drum break, and the murdered men fall repeatedly. The repetition becomes harrowing.

Harth-Bedoya seemed at home with its layered entrances and different instruments playing competing and intersecting rhythmic patterns. He was able to pace the piece's incessant forward motion with moments of transcendent beauty. In "Ainadamar", that is what lingers—music that revels in earthly passion and spiritual transformation.

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