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Ainadamar

by Osvaldo Golijov

Libretto by David Henry Hwang

Ainadamar means “fountain of tears” in Arabic. It’s a real fountain that witnessed beautiful harmony in the 12th century; it’s a fountain to which Arab poets quoted by Federico Garcia Lorca wrote poems to the beauty, to the peace, to the inspiration, that fountain provided to people, when these three cultures coexisted in the soul of Spain: the Moslem, the Jewish and the Christian. And it’s a fountain that –eight centuries later – witnessed the murder of this great poet, so that’s why we called it “fountain of tears”. It’s a fountain that is the witness of harmony and the witness of barbarity.  (Osvaldo Golijov)

Golijov's score is amazing, in its opening distant trumpet calls, its insinuating dance rhythms, its vital command of percussion and its arrestingly beautiful arias for women's voice. The end is a devastatingly lush trio, with the voices of Lorca and Margarita from beyond guiding the way for Nuria. (mark Swed - LA Times)

Ainadamar (arabic for "Fountain of Tears") tells the story of the Spanish playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca who was executed in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. Lorca's life and deaths are told in flashbacks by actress Margarita Xirgu, for whom Lorca wrote some of his greatest female roles. Xirgu remembers him during the last moments of her own life, which ended in 1969. Ainadamar becomes a gripping reflection on the undying faith of a people, the moral duty of the artist and the relationship between artistic and political freedom. "I am freedom. I am wounded and bleeding hope," sings the dying Xirgu at the opera's cathartic close.

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Watch a trailer of LBO's production here

Audio Introduction to the opera with excerpts and interviews.

PDF with Golijov interview and comments on each scene of the opera

Osvaldo Golijov (1960-)

Through his operas, his symphonies, his compositions for his own ensemble, and his wide-ranging Osvaldo Golijov has received numerous commissions from major ensembles and institutions in the U.S. and Europe and is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, among many other awards. His music is performed regularly by musicians such as Robert Spano, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Dawn Upshaw, Luciana Souza, Maya Beiser, the St. Lawrence, Kronos and Borromeo quartets, and the symphony orchestras of Boston, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles, to name but a few. His collaborations continue to grow, most recently with the notable film director Francis Ford Coppola, for whom he has written two film scores, in a period of under two years. He is currently writing a piece for Dawn Upshaw and Emmanuel Ax, and is working on a commission for the Metropolitan Opera. He has been composer-in-residence at Merkin Hall in New York, the Spoleto USA Festival, the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Music Alive series, Marlboro Music, Ravinia, and several other festivals, and is currently composer-in-residence at the Chicago Symphony.
Notable works include a one-act opera, Ainadamar ("Fountain of Tears"), with a libretto by David H. Hwang, commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the Tanglewood Music Center, a set of folksongs, Ayre, featuring Dawn Upshaw and commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the sublime La Pasión según San Marcos, commissioned by Helmuth Rilling for the European Music Festival to commemorate the 250th anniversary of J.S. Bach's death, and most recently his cantata Oceana, featuring Luciana Souza, the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and Orchestra. The releases of his works on the Deutsche Grammaphon label are continually met with critical acclaim, garnering many awards including several Grammys.
In January and February 2006 Lincoln Center presented a Festival called "The Passion of Osvaldo Golijov", featuring multiple performances of his major works, chamber music, late nights of Tango and Klezmer, and a night at the Film Society. In 2007 he was appointed the first composer in residence for Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival. In June 2008 La Pasión was performed as the closing concert of the Holland Festival, to great acclaim.

David Henry hwang  (1957-)

David Henry Hwang is a playwright, screenwriter, and librettist, best known as the author of M. Butterfly, which ran for two years on Broadway, won the 1988 Tony, Drama Desk, John Gassner, and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Mr. Hwang penned the screenplay for a 1993 movie version of his play M. Butterfly. Golden Child premiered Off-Broadway at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, received a 1997 OBIE Award for playwriting and subsequently moved to Broadway, where it received three 1998 Tony Nominations, including Best Play. The Lost Empire, a four-hour NBC television miniseries (Hallmark Entertainment, 2001); and Possession (co-writer, USA Films/Warner Brothers, 2002), starring Gwyneth Paltrow, directed by Neil LaBute.

As a librettist, he has written three works for composer Philip Glass: 1000 Airplanes on the Roof (1988), The Voyage, which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 1992, and The Sound of a Voice for the American Repertory Theatre (2003). The Silver River, with music by Bright Sheng, was produced at the 1998 Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, 2000 Spoleto Festival USA and the 2002 Lincoln Center Festival. Ainadamar, with music by Osvaldo Golijov, was produced by the Santa Fe Opera in 2005 and Lincoln Center in 2006, in a production directed by Peter Sellars, starring Dawn Upshaw; the CD has recently been released by Deutsche Grammophon. Mr. Hwang also co-wrote the song "Solo," released on the 1994 gold album Come by composer/performer Prince.

Federico García Lorca (1898-1936)

Federico García Lorca is possibly the most important Spanish poet and dramatist of the twentieth century. García Lorca was born June 5, 1898, in Fuente Vaqueros, a small town a few miles from Granada. His father owned a farm in the fertile vega surrounding Granada and a comfortable mansion in the heart of the city. His mother, whom Lorca idolized, was a gifted pianist. After graduating from secondary school García Lorca attended Sacred Heart University where he took up law along with regular coursework. His first book, Impresiones y Viajes (1919) was inspired by a trip to Castile with his art class in 1917.
In 1919, García Lorca traveled to Madrid, where he remained for the next fifteen years. Giving up university, he devoted himself entirely to his art. He organized theatrical performances, read his poems in public, and collected old folksongs. During this period García Lorca wrote El Maleficio de la mariposa (1920), a play which caused a great scandal when it was produced. He also wrote Libro de poemas (1921), a compilation of poems based on Spanish folklore. Much of García Lorca's work was infused with popular themes such as Flamenco and Gypsy culture. In 1922, García Lorca organized the first "Cante Jondo" festival in which Spain's most famous "deep song" singers and guitarists participated. The deep song form permeated his poems of the early 1920s. During this period, García Lorca became part of a group of artists known as Generación del 27, which included Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel, who exposed the young poet to surrealism. In 1928, his book of verse, Romancero Gitano ("The Gypsy Ballads"), brought García Lorca far-reaching fame; it was reprinted seven times during his lifetime.
In 1929, García Lorca came to New York. The poet's favorite neighborhood was Harlem; he loved African-American spirituals, which reminded him of Spain's "deep songs." In 1930, García Lorca returned to Spain after the proclamation of the Spanish republic and participated in the Second Ordinary Congress of the Federal Union of Hispanic Students in November of 1931. The congress decided to build a "Barraca" in central Madrid in which to produce important plays for the public. "La Barraca," the traveling theater company that resulted, toured many Spanish towns, villages, and cities performing Spanish classics on public squares. Some of García Lorca's own plays, including his three great tragedies Bodas de sangre (1933), Yerma (1934), and La Casa de Bernarda Alba (1936), were also produced by the company.
In 1936, García Lorca was staying at Callejones de García, his country home, at the outbreak of the Civil War. He was arrested by Franquist soldiers, and on the 17th or 18th of August, after a few days in jail, soldiers took García Lorca to "visit" his brother-in-law, Manuel Fernandez Montesinos, the Socialist ex-mayor of Granada whom the soldiers had murdered and dragged through the streets. When they arrived at the cemetery, the soldiers forced García Lorca from the car. They struck him with the butts of their rifles and riddled his body with bullets. His books were burned in Granada's Plaza del Carmen and were soon banned from Franco's Spain. To this day, no one knows where the body of Federico García Lorca rests.

Selected Works:

Poetry

  • Canciones (1927)
  • El poema del Cante Jondo (1932)
  • Impresiones y viajes (1918)
  • In Search of Duende (1998)
  • Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter and Other Poems (1937)
  • Libro de poemas (1921)
  • Llanto por Ignacio Sanchez Mejias (1935)
  • Poeta en Nueva York ("Poet in New York" - 1940)
  • Romancero Gitano ("The Gypsy Ballads" - 1928)
  • Selected Poems (1941)

Dramas

  • Amor de Don Perlimplin con Belisa en su jardin (Love of Don Perlimplín and Belisa in his Garden - 1931)
  • Bodas de sangre ("Blood Wedding" - 1933)
  • El malificio de la mariposa (The Butterfly's Evil Spell - 1920)
  • La casa de Bernarda Alba ("The House of Bernarda Alba" - 1936)
  • La zapatera prodigiosa ("The Shoemaker's Marvelous Wife" - 1930)
  • Mariana Pineda (1927)
  • Yerma (1934)

Margarita Xirgu (1888-1969)

Margarita Xirgu, also Margarida Xirgu (18 June 1888, Molins de Rei, (Catalonia, Spain) – 25 April 1969, Montevideo, (Uruguay)) was a Catalan stage actress, who was greatly popular throughout her country and Latin America.  A personal friend of the poet Federico García Lorca, her greatest contribution was her advancement of Lorca's plays. She was forced into exile during Francisco Franco's dictatorship of Spain, but continued her work in America. Notable plays in which she appeared include Como tú me Deseas, La Casa de Bernarda Alba, and Mariana Pineda. She starred in the 1938 Spanish film version of Garcia Lorca's Bodas de sangre (Blood Wedding), the only film version of a Garcia Lorca play to star an actress who was a personal friend of the author and who had appeared in his works onstage. ???Xirgu learned of Lorca's execution just before a performance of "Yerma", and changed her final line from "I myself have murdered my own children" to "They have murdered my child."

The Cause of The Spanish Civil War

1923 saw the establishment of General Primo de Rivera dictator of Spain with Alfonzo XIII as King: a monarchist government. By 1930, opposition to Rivera’s right-wing government was a growing, and this ultimately led to his resignation and flight from Spain. In 1931 the monarchist government was rejected in the popular elections (las elecciones populares), which forced the abdication of Alfonzo XIII.
Spain, now a republic for the second time (la Segunda República), began to suffer a good deal of political unrest as various political factions within Spain argued about the extent and speed of political reform. Left-wing parties formed a coalition (which dominated the Spanish parliament) to call for significant social reform while. At the other end of the political continuum, conservative groups threatened this loose coalition and over the years leading up to 1936 political views in Spain became progressively polarised.
By the time the 1936 elections came around, the leftist Popular Front Party (el Frente Popular) had successfully unified various leftist factions to win at the polls. However, on July 18th, 1936, an army rebellion started and thus the Spanish Civil War began. The conservative army generals led by General Francisco Franco, began a military coup to depose the elected government.
As the Spanish Civil War progressed, General Francisco Franco made agreements with Hitler and Mussolini: Franco traded very large quantities of Spain’s primary materials (iron ore, copper etc. for Germany and Italy’s growing weapons arsenal) in exchange for military support to capture the strategic port of Bilbao in the Basque Country. With this support, General Francisco Franco furthered his control of Spain.
Although republican forces responded valiantly to oppose Franco, they were hampered by many problems: supplies were limited, their weaponry being outdated and the international support for the republican cause, which was substantial at the start of the Spanish Civil War, began to wane: France, England and America had agreed a Non-Intervention Pact which refused aid to the republican forces. The republic sought support from the Soviet Union (la Únion Soviética) for arms and supplies. Unfortunately this came at a high price as Soviet involvement increased internal divisions between communist and non-communist republican supporters, causing the anti-nationalists to splinter.
At the same time, assisted by Hitler and Mussolini, General Francisco Franco took control of most of Spain. The thorn in Franco’s side was the Basque Country, which he had been unable to combat and thus control. Franco called for Hitler’s assistance to break the Basque Country through the use of the German Air Force. This request led to the most shocking incident of the Spanish Civil War: the bombing of Guernica (el Bombardeo de Guernica).
At around 16:30 on Monday 26th April 1937, a force of German planes (known as the Condor Legion) began the blanket bombing of the historical town of Guernica. This was the first time such a campaign had been carried out in any war; it marked the start of mass attacks on undefended civilians and was a testing ground for Hitler’s later campaigns during World War Two (la Segunda Guerra Mundial). The intention of this arial bombardment was to crush the spirit of the Basque people and bring the Basque region to its knees.
The actual death toll of the Guernica bombings is unknown but it is estimated that 10,000 civilians were killed. Pablo Picasso immortalized this horrific act through one of his most famous works: Guernica (which currently hangs in the Reína Sofía museum in Madrid).
Between March and June 1938, General Franco’s nationalists pressed on to the Mediterranean , mounting a fierce attack against the republican stronghold of Catalonia. After several months of fighting, the city of Barcelona was captured in January 1939. This victory effectively ended the republican fight, making way for General Francisco Franco to march upon Madrid where the Republican army unconditionally surrendered. On October 1st, 1936, Franco was publicly proclaimed as Generalissimo of the Fascist army and Head of State (el Jefe del Estado).

Synopsis

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 forty 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 theater 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. Two thousand one hundred and thirty seven people were murdered in Granada between July 26, 1936, and March 1, 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 thirty 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.
–Peter Sellars