By: Wendy Sheard, TRP Reviewer
Ainadamar is a mesmerising blend of music, dance and opulent operatic numbers brought to us by the Welsh National Opera. Described as an opera in one act, it tells the true story of playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca and his muse Margarite Xirgu. Ainadamar, Arabic for ‘fountain of tears’, is a perfect metaphor for a life which courted controversy and violence in equal measure.
We discover more about Lorca’s life, played brilliantly by Hanna Happ, through the eyes of Margarite, beautifully portrayed by Jacquelina Livieri, as she reminisces and recalls her friendship with Lorca and his brutal execution during the Spanish Civil War.
Directed by Olivier winning choreographer Deborah Colker, Ainadamar is her debut operatic offering; and what a debut! This is a tantalising combination of sound and vision brought to us by a talented creative team; lighting effects offer depth and detail; projection provides elements which enhance and enrich and there is an intense cinematic feel to the music, which has won two Grammys for composer Osvaldo Golijov.
Highlights include elements of flamenco, in one scene, plain black fans offer the ‘snap’ to accompany the ‘stomp’ of the dance which is brilliant and splendid in its simplicity; by way of a contrast a scene where statues come to life appears quiet and sedate belying the skill of the performers who are standing atop of plinths using lithe, fluid movements which mirror the words and sentiments of the accompanying lyrics.
The stage management, scenery and use of props is totally fascinating and brings a contemporary, dynamic feel to this operatic piece. There is a sensuality to the performance, no movement is wasted, the company work together to transition between scenes almost effortlessly with rhythmic and efficient creativity.
You can feel of Spain throughout this performance, which is more than just words, music and dance, there is emotion, heat, passion and a hint of the outrageous which is mirrored by gorgeous silk dresses and sharp cut suits as well as uniforms and everyday garb. There are contrasts throughout; fighting and bloodshed are portrayed alongside love and loss which deeply resonate with what is happening in our world right now.
The final scene is beautifully atmospheric and reinforces the meaning of Ainadamar; fountain of tears. I was absorbed by this production; the use of imagery and lighting as well as the overall staging totally transfixed me. The translation of the lyrics, located on a screen above the stage may be off putting for some but didn’t detract from the overall performance for me.
As a newbie to the world of operatic performance, I wasn’t sure what to expect; Ainadamar has certainly opened my eyes to a new genre of theatre which I look forward to exploring in the future.
Thank you WNO, what’s next?