- Ainadamar (Fountain of Tears), opera
If it's true that opera needs to stretch its boundaries to survive in the 21st century, then Osvaldo Golijov's stunning Ainadamar is the sound of the genre's future. This composer's star has been ascending for quite some time, but with Ainadamar, his first opera, he transcends all the previous acclaim he's earned. As with the virtuosic song cycle Ayre, also recently recorded by Deutsche Grammophon, the central role of Ainadamar was written for soprano Dawn Upshaw; her partnership with Golijov has rapidly become one of the most exciting in contemporary music, so keenly does he draw a unique expressive fire out of her voice. Also like Ayre (and Golijov's work in general), Ainadamar is rooted in an eclectic range of musical influences, from Flamenco rhythms to modern electronic sound design. The dance rhythms are especially important to this opera, often viscerally underlining its Spanish setting. With a plot loosely structured around violent events from Spain's past (including the poet Federico Garcia Lorca's assassination in 1936, which occurred near Ainadamar, the "Fountain of Tears," in Granada), there's plenty of operatic drama and emotion concentrated into this concise work, and its historical truth makes it especially affecting. Somewhat surprisingly, Lorca is a trouser role, wonderfully sung by mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor; the payoff includes sublime duets between O'Connor and Upshaw ("Bar Albor de Madrid" and "Quiero cantar entre las explosions") and a gorgeous trio for female voices as well ("Doy mi sangre"). In this spellbinding performance led by longtime Golijov champion Robert Spano (and featuring half of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet among its guest musicians), Ainadamar emerges from first bar to last as a truly original, essential contribution to 21st-century opera.
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Golijov: Ainadamar (Fountain of Tears) based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
'Ainadamar' is a breathtakingly beautiful work for voices and orchestra and while it is conceived and has been performed as a stage work (aka 'opera'), this listener has not had the privilege of seeing that form of this new work by Osvaldo Golijov. And that factor as its drawbacks and its advantages: without relying on the visuals of a stage production the music on this very well produced CD allows total commitment to the music values alone. The music is exquisite! Based on a libretto written by David Henry Hwang, the work is sung in Spanish and relates a moment in time when Margarita Xirgu, an actress and collaborator with the immensely gifted poet and writer Federico Garcia Lorca, recalls his presence and influence and death. There is little more narrative than that, but from that bare bones outline blossoms some of the most successful music that the gifted Golijov has written to date. There are bits of ethereal orchestration suffused with dance rhythms and that plaintive line known best to flamenco singers. The arias/melodies are created in the most compelling manner - the voice growing organically from the various instrumentations at Golijov's seemingly endless disposal. Margarita is sung here by the incomparable Dawn Upshaw in a signature performance: the quality and purity of her tone and timbre of her voice embrace Golijov's lines with complete ease and commitment. She is a wonder here. The role of Lorca is a trouser role sung with compelling beauty by Kelley O'Connor. The remainder of the rather small cast all sing and perform well and the entire performance is molded to perfection by conductor Robert Spano with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and chorus (the women's voices only). It is an enviable achievement. Golijov grows each year as a composer and with this works he enters the highest echelon of contemporary classical music composers. Hearing 'Ainadamar' results in immediately listening again, as though what has just been heard could not possibly have been that fine. But it is. Highly Recommended.