Opera Review: Scottish Opera: Ainadamar, Theater Royal, Glasgow
Scottish Opera: Ainadamar, Theater Royal, Glasgow *****
Tired of the endless misery of divisive politics, a bleak economy and gray fall weather? Then let Scottish Opera whisk you away to an exotic, albeit still troubled, world in this impassioned, gritty UK premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s Anaidamar, co-presented with Opera Ventures.
It is not the happiest of works, dealing with the life, death by execution and legacy of Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca, expressed in traditionally inspired songs and dances, and through the eyes of his actress muse Margarita Xirgu and his pupil Nourie.
But in her first-ever operatic staging, Brazilian choreographer Deborah Colker and her mixed-media creative team extract a colorful and rewarding optimism. It’s a simultaneous hit on all the senses, combining the noble passions of opera with the instant adrenaline of a West End musical.
The aesthetic conflict is captivating. A guttural drone of stagecraft emerges from the luxuriously populated Scottish Opera Orchestra under conductor Stuart Stratford, loaded with additional percussion, ample brass and Spanish guitar. The action emerging from the darkened stage, mostly contained within a shimmering circular wire curtain onto which the projected images are a magical amplification of the narrative, is a triumph of synthesis.
The entire production is a haunting unification of opposites, with a musical vocabulary that combines earthy choir numbers, smoky rumbas and sumptuous Puccini-esque pieces; flamenco dancers trample and bustle in the orchestra’s percussion machine room; and a vocal ensemble comfortable with Colker’s edgy choreography (albeit a bit underpowered in their opening scene).
At the heart of this intoxicating cocktail are seductive Lauren Fagan as Margarita, Julieth Lozano as worshiper Nuria, Samantha Hankey’s otherworldly Lorca and the searing thrill of Alfredo’s authentic flamenco singing. Tejeda.
As our arts companies prepare for the expected cuts, Scottish Opera is bringing us spectacular success.