Long Beach Opera Presents Oswaldo Golijov & David Henry Hwang's AINADAMAR, 5/20-26
For the first time on the West Coast, audiences will have the opportunity to see Ainadamar fully staged in its acclaimed revised version. Long Beach Opera (LBO) presents Argentine composer Oswaldo Golijov and librettist David Henry Hwang's powerful Grammy Award-winning opera on May 20 and May 26, 2012 at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, CA. Based on the life of famous writer Federico Garcia Lorca and his murder by Fascists during the Spanish Civil War, Ainadamar celebrates Lorca's fight for artistic, political and personal freedom.
The production features soprano Suzan Hanson as Lorca's close friend, the actress Margarita Xirgu; mezzo-soprano Peabody Southwell as Federico Garcia Lorca; and soprano Ani Maldjian as Xirgu's pupil, Nuria. Conductor Steven R. Osgood will lead the LBO Orchestra and Chorus. Ainadamar reunites the artistic team from last season's Akhnaten: Andreas Mitisek will direct and design; German video artist Frieder Weiss will create video projections "out of thin air;" Nannette Brodie will choreograph dancers from the Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre.
Ainadamar (Arabic for"fountain of tears") refers to an ancient well near the city of Granada where Lorca is believed to have been executed by Fascists during the Spanish Civil War. Lorca's life is told through the memories of his close friend, aging Catalonian actress Margarita Xirgu. Exiled and living in Uruguay, she is about to perform in Lorca's play, Mariana Pineda. Flooded with thoughts of her past and overcome with guilt she was unable to save the life of her friend, Xirgu shares Lorca's story with her student, Nuria. Before she can go on stage, Xirgu dies with the realization Lorca has survived through her and through his works; and that Nuria and others like her will continue to make him live as a symbol of artistic and personal freedom.
The score incorporates flamenco, klezmer, Spanish folk tunes, Baroque religious music, strong percussion and electronic instrumentation – a musical hybrid of sounds. In the varied orchestration, one hears not only gunfire and horses' hoofs, but the inner thoughts and emotions of the opera's protagonists. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Golijov commented, "From a rumba I modulate to flamenco. From a Greek lament to Der Rosenkavalier. As long as traditions are kept alive, music will be kept alive…"
LBO will perform the revised version which premiered at Santa Fe Opera in 2005. In 2006, the Ojai Festival presented the revised version in a semi-staged production. The LA Philharmonic New Music Group performed the West Coast premiere of the original version in 2004.
AINADAMAR - in Spanish with English supertitles, runs 1 ½ hours, Sunday, May 20, 2012, 7:00 PM and Saturday, May 26, 2012, 8:00 PM, at the Terrace Theater, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, located at 300 E Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, Calif.
Tickets range from $29 to $150. They can be purchased at www.longbeachopera.org/tickets or the LBO Box Office at 562-432-5934. Group discounts are available through the Box Office.
CAST: Suzan Hanson (Margarita Xirgu, actress), Peabody Southwell (Federico Garcia Lorca), Ani Maldjian (Nuria, a student of Margarita), Nicholas Shelton (José Tripaldi, Falangist guard), Robert Perlas Gomez (Maestro, teacher), John Atkins (Torrero, bullfighter)
CREATIVE: Conductor – Steven R. Osgood, Stage Director/Production Designer - Andreas Mitisek, Choreographer – Nannette Brodie, Video Designer – Frieder Weiss, Light Designer – Dan Weinstein, Sound Designer – Bob Christian, Chorus Master/Assistant Conductor – Benjamin Makino
LBO Orchestra & Chorus with the Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre
Soprano Suzan Hanson (Margarita Xirgu) is a favorite at Long Beach Opera, having performed numerous roles with the company. Audiences will recall her chilling performance in the title role of Cherubini's Medea in 2011. Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times admired her "richly forceful singing." David Gregson in Opera West wrote,"Divas like this inspire awe." Christie Grimsted in Concerto.net commented, "Her singing is blistering, her enunciation and acting are exceptional." Among her many stage roles, Suzan played Sharon in the national touring company of Master Class with Faye Dunaway. She recently performed Poulenc's one-woman opera, La Voix Hunane, with San Jose Opera.
Mezzo-soprano Peabody Southwell (Federico Garcia Lorca) performed the title role in LBO's critically acclaimed 2012 production of Maria de Buenos Aires. Chris Pasles in his Los Angeles Times review praised her performance as "arresting, passionate, sexy, vulnerable and tragic." She won over critics last summer in Gianni Schicchi and The Seven Deadly Sins at Central City Opera in Colorado.
Soprano Ani Maldjian (Nuria) recently wowed local audiences and critics in the dual roles of Therese/Tiresias in Poulenc'sThe Breasts of Tiresias and as Eleonore in Martinu's The Tears of a Knife. Buzz Belmont in the Houston Chronicle wrote of her 2011 performance in Bizet'sThe Pearl Fishers," The beautiful Ani Maldjian is splendid as Leila, particularly in her first aria which displays her brilliant artistry as a coloratura soprano with jewel-like tones and trills and remarkable breath control and placement." She has sung more than 30 major roles, including her LBO debut as Anne Frank in the 2007 production of Grigori Frid's The Diary of Anne Frank. In 2005, Ani won the Western Region Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Steven R. Osgood (Conductor) With his unique combination of theatrical and musical background, Steve brings to the podium an incisiveness and dramatic insight which is rare in today's emerging conductors. As the former artistic director of American Opera Projects, he conducted a number of world premieres and created the company's nationally recognized Composers and the Voice Workshop Series. Steve has spent three seasons as assistant conductor with the Metropolitan Opera, where he contributed to the productions of La Traviata, Phillip Glass' Satyagraha, Tan's The First Emperor, and John Adams' Nixon in China. Elsewhere, he has conducted Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle, Schoenberg's Erwartung and La Traviata for Edmonton Opera, Tan Dun's Marco Polo for the Netherlands Opera, Schwartz' Seance on a Wet Afternoon and La Bohème for New York City Opera, Susa's Transformations at Juilliard, Tosca for Chautauqua Opera, Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream at Wolf Trap, Foss'Griffelkin, Hoiby's A Month in the Country, Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles at Manhattan School of Music and Xenakis'Orestia at Columbia University.
Andreas Mitisek (Stage Direction & Production Design) is the artistic and general director of Long Beach Opera (LBO) and, in September 2012, will also become the general director of Chicago Opera Theater (COT). Having established a reputation as an international concert artist, conductor and the founder of the Wiener Operntheater in his native Vienna, in 2003 Mitisek took over the reins of LBO from its retiring founding director Michael Milenski. Some of Mitisek's critically acclaimed stagings at LBO include new interpretations of Schubert's Winterreise; Frid's, The Diary of Anne Frank, Gordon's Orpheus & Euridice, Cherubini's Medea and Glass' Akhnaten. In January 2012, Mitisek designed and conducted a new production of Piazzolla's Maria de Buenos Aires, setting the piece during Argentina's "Dirty War."
Composer Osvaldo Golijov was raised by his Eastern European Jewish parents in La Plata, Argentina surrounded by classical music, klezmer and the "nuevo tango" of Astor Piazzolla. His background strongly influences his many compositions which often merge traditional music with modern, ancient strains with electronic riffs, flamenco with classical Baroque. He moved to Israel in 1983 and three years later to the United States, where he earned a Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2000, Golijov premiered La Pasión según San Marcos (performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in April 2010 to coincide with the release of the CD and DVD by Deutsche Grammophon.) In 2002, he collaborated with the clarinetist Todd Palmer (Orpheus in LBO's Orpheus & Euridice) on Yiddishbbuk, a Grammy-nominated CD of Golijov's chamber music. Golijov's first opera Ainadamar was recorded by Deutsche Grammophon and earned two Grammy awards: best opera recording and best contemporary composition. He later recorded The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind (premiered with Todd Palmer) and Nuevo with the Kronos Quartet. Future compositions include a new opera commissioned by New York's Metropolitan Opera, and a violin concerto for Leonidas Kavakos, co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and London Symphony, to be premiered under Gustavo Dudamel in Los Angeles and Simon Rattle in Berlin. Golijov is Loyola Professor of Music at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, where he has taught since 1991.
David Henry Hwang was born in Los Angeles, CA and studied at the Yale School of Drama and at Stanford University. The status of Asian-Americans in modern society is a recurrent theme in Hwang's plays. The Dance and the Railroad, an early play about a Chinese opera singer working as a laborer, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. In 1988, Hwang's best known play, M Butterfly, made him the first Asian-American recipient of a Tony Award. Golden Child garnered Hwang another Tony nomination and a 1997 Obie Award. On Broadway, his work includes the book for the 2003 revival of Flower Drum Song as well as Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida. Hwang is no stranger to opera having written the librettos for Philip Glass'The Voyage, 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, and The Sound of a Voice (produced by LBO in 2006) as well as Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland (with Chin) and Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar. Hwang has also written for television and appeared on numerous television programs. Although he is based in New York City, he travels frequently to Los Angeles where East West Players, the nation's oldest Asian American Acting Company, has named its main stage theater after him (David Henry Hwang Theater.)
On August 10, 2003, Ainadamar premiered in a student production at the Tanglewood Music Center, commissioned by the Boston Symphony. On February 29, 2004, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group performed the work with some musical and production changes. The libretto and score subsequently underwent major rewrites by Golijov and Hwang. The revised version premiered on July 30, 2005 at Santa Fe Opera. Other productions of the revised work include Lincoln Center, the Ojai Music Festival (semi-staged concert production) and Ravinia Festival in 2006; Opera Boston in 2007; and a concert version at Carnegie Hall in 2008. On May 30, 2010, the opera had its South America premiere at La Plata, Argentina; and on June 25, 2011, its Spanish premiere in Granada
Federico García Lorca was born June 5, 1898, in Fuente Vaqueros, a small town a few miles from Granada. His first book, Impresiones y Viajes (1919) was inspired by a trip to Castile. Much of García Lorca's work is 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. Lorca became part of a group of artists known as Generación del 27, which included Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel. 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. "La Barraca," a traveling theater company from Madrid, produced García Lorca's three great tragedies Bodas de sangre (1933), Yerma (1934), and La Casa de Bernarda Alba (1936.) In 1936, García Lorca was arrested by Falangist 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. Lorca's books were later burned in Granada's Plaza del Carmen and were soon banned from Franco's Spain. Federico Garcia Lorca is believed to have been executed shortly after his arrest. The location of his remains is still unknown. (Abridged from Academy of American Poets website)
Long Beach Opera (LBO) is internationally known for its cutting-edge interpretations of unconventional repertory. LBO creates immediate, inventive and often boldly avant-garde productions for an adventurous audience and stands apart from most opera companies in the number of world, American and West Coast premieres the company has staged. Founded in 1979, it is the oldest opera company in the Los Angeles/Orange County region with a performance history of more than 90 operas, ranging from the earliest works of the 17th century to modern operas of the 21st. Bold site-specific stagings in such places as the hull of an ocean liner, an Olympic swimming pool, nightclubs and parking structures reflect the company's desire to give audiences unique theatrical experiences which showcase opera in a new light. Through its diverse productions at a variety of venues, film screenings, special concerts, an active education program with student matinees of every production, LBO continues to make opera accessible to an ever-expanding audience.