The new production of Ainadamar (sung in Spanish) will be produced by the Curtis Opera Theatre under the direction of Mikael Eliasen, head of Vocal Studies at Curtis. Corrado Rovaris, music director of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, will conduct; Chas Rader-Shieber directs and sets are by David Zinn.
Ainadamar will be presented as an add-on to the 2007-08 subscription seasons of both the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Kimmel Center Presents. According to a statement, this cooperative venture allows the two organizations to provide marketing support to Curtis, including access to more than 10,000 opera and new-music supporters in the region.
Ainadamar means "fountain of tears" in Arabic and refers to an ancient well near Granada where the poet and playwright Federico Garc‹a Lorca was assassinated by Fascist forces in August 1936, during the Spanish Civil War. Golijov's opera tells the story of Garc‹a Lorca's murder through the memories of the playwright's muse, Catalan actress Margarita Xirgu. The opera is told in reverse, in a series of flashbacks, as Xirgu prepares to perform in a Garc‹a Lorca play 33 years after his murder. Like much of Golijov's work, the opera incorporates Arab, Jewish, and flamenco idioms. The libretto was written by David Henry Hwang and translated into Spanish by the composer.
Golijov wrote Ainadamar for the Tanglewood Festival, where it was premiered in 2003 under the baton of Curtis alumnus Roberto Spano. The opera's first recording was issued in 2006 by Deutsche Grammophon, conducted by Spano and featuring the cast that performed the premiere along with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. The disc received two 2006 Grammy Awards, for Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Contemporary Composition.
Golijov, an Argentine composer who grew up in an Eastern European Jewish household surrounded by classical, Jewish liturgical, klezmer and tango music, moved to Israel in 1983 and to the U.S. in 1986. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with George Crumb. As a fellow at Tanglewood, he studied with Oliver Knussen.
He frequently collaborates with soprano Dawn Upshaw, who created the role of Margarita Xirgu in Ainadamar. She also sang on the premiere recording of his song cycle Ayre.
"We at Curtis are honored to present this electrifying work by Osvaldo Golijov for the first time to Philadelphia audiences," said Curtis President Roberto D‹az. "It represents a remarkable opportunity for our students. The Curtis Opera Theatre has established a notable record of producing operas by living composers, and Ainadamar will be a wonderful new exploration for our singers and orchestra."