I absolutely loved this opera! The singing, the weird flashback-y story, the occasionally atonal music, the voices, the orchestra – and most especially – the staging!
It is a sad and awful story – and one we Americans know little about – the Spanish Civil War and the rise of fascism / Franco. My friend Carol said these events were forerunners of the fascism / Nazism / rise of Hitler – the dress rehearsal for World War II. We had a great time after the opera, talking it over with friends at Iris Bookcafe on Main Street.
Derivative was Carol’s other term for this opera – none of the emotional tearing of Don Carlo, for instance. Instead, it’s the story of a revolutionary martyr from 100 years before, written by the gay man who then was martyred in 1936, and sung by his muse, a Catalan actress. So it’s a story about a story about a…. All the pain is at a remove.
The staging made the execution immediate – and in-your-face insane. Why do tyrants / (men) / controllers feel that murder works? It doesn’t, except in the very short term. And the starkness of the gunshots and the men felled by them, including our hero, made that all clear.
The orchestra was definitely part of the action – so it was on stage, and not in the pit. The staging areas were built around and above the musicians – with a laptop included as an actor as well. The Greek chorus, the 6 year old boy, the wonderful voices. I was glad we had attended Opera Insights, a discussion of this little known work just being premiered in Cincinnati. A wonderful sensual experience – both the gut and the head are required for this opera.
A definite Aaaaaahhhhhhh!