Tonight we have the second performance of Ainadamar, which opened strongly on Saturday. Charles at Ionarts gave his opinion (can’t really call it a ‘review,’ since he saw a rehearsal and not a performance), along with a collection of links to other reviews. The New York Times review focuses on Osvaldo’s music, while the LA Times writer gets into the socio-political aspects of the piece.
Two years ago, when someone asked me what Ainadamar was about, I would say that it was about Margarita Xirgu, the actress who helped bring Lorca and his plays to prominence, at the moment of her death. She looks back on her life with the young poet and mourns his grisly death.
Now, there is so much more there, and not just because of the musical reshaping the work has undergone. In Peter’s hands, it has become a piece about Fascism, fear, hope, freedom, and the creation and destruction of beauty. All the elements of the former piece are there; we are still witnessing the last three minutes of Margarita’s life. But they are fleshed out – musically and dramatically – to issue a wake-up call. Margarita, who fled Spain for Latin America on the crest of the fascist wave, regrets her choice (or, at least regrets not being able to convince Lorca to come with her). But more than that, she asks us if we will be willing to stand up to the extremists who threaten those with different religious beliefs, those who strive to open the minds of children, or those whose art or lifestyle challenges their idea of “normal.” (Ainadamar’s Bullfighter, Teacher, and Lorca). This line from the LA Times review says a lot: “It is an opera of unfinished business, on the passing on of the knowledge and experience of one generation to the next.” Thousands died along with Lorca that night in Spain; how many more have to die before we can stand up and say “no more”? May our generation be the one to succeed.
Ainadamar ends with a message of hope – there are students who are following the teachers who will “ask the questions.” We are still talking of Lorca and Margarita and their works and his ideas. I am reminded of a line from The Princess Bride, when Wesley tells Buttercup that “Death can not stop True Love; all it can do is delay it for a little while.” The same is true of oppression and Freedom. Freedom will win in the end, no matter how many generations it takes.
This isn’t a political blog, by any means. But my thoughts have been very political throughout this rehearsal process. How many people do you know who talked about moving to Canada or Europe when President Bush won a second term? I certainly did. (Fest contract, anyone?) But now, looking back at this not-too-distant era of fear and oppression, I am challenged to stay. To find the strength to stand up. To help put an end to the climate of fear that we are encouraged to live in. I know I’m just an opera singer, but I will do my part.
I know that I still haven’t written about the rehearsal process, and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to. You get some idea of what it’s been like through this post. The details – scraped knees, lots of tears, incredible bonding with my castmates, and the like – aren’t important. The change of heart is.