Welsh National Opera
The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth
Named for the site near Granada where poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca—and thousands of others—were murdered during the Spanish Civil War, Ainadamar is a bleak one-act memorial infused with passion and violence.
A somewhat complex weaving of threads—historical and 1930s, fact and fantasy, the living and the dead—is a tad confusing with Lorca’s muse Margarita Xirgu (beautifully nuanced by Jaquelina Livieri) the link having played the 19th century revolutionary Mariana Pineda, murdered for refusing to speak, in the successful play by Lorca (mellifluous female alto Hanna Hipp).
Xirgu keeps alive the memory of Lorca with heart-wrenching renditions to pupil Nuria (buoyant soprano Julieth Lozano Rolong) while Falangist Alonso (Alfredo Tejada) is somewhat strident.
Osvaldo Golijov’s twice Grammy-winning score is infused with flamenco, rumba and percussion with a smattering of electronica and onstage guitar providing Olivier-winning choreographer Deborah Colker (Rio 2016 Olympics Ceremony; Cirque du Soleil) a vibrant backdrop for spectacle in her much-anticipated operatic director’s debut.
But it is the flamenco dancers, bullfighters and shawl-flapping, plinth-topping posturing, projected images and slogans that swamp the senses.
Jon Bausor’s Fountain of Tears—a circular curtain of gauzy strands—dominates as political, religious (including a Last Supper-esque tableau on wheels), sexual and Spanish images proliferate. Bulls circle, quotations flash and Pineda’s eyes have it in a veritable but muted kaleidoscope.
An interestingly dour 80 minutes.
Reviewer: Karen Bussell