top of page
Jaquelina Livieri as Margarita Xirgu, Julieth Lozano Rolong as Nuria in WNO Ainadamar 2023

Such a powerful contemporary piece of theatre about the Spanish civil war made even more poignant with the Middle East in bloody conflict.

That’s Ainadamar a spine-tingling spectacle from the Olivier-winning star choreographer Deborah Colker in her much-anticipated operatic debut in the director’s seat.

It played out to a full house for one night only at the Bristol Hippodrome like a lament to strife with live orchestra, funeral dirge and was much, much, sadder than we expected.

A play within a play.

The large overlaying text wrapped around the stage against a backdrop of female faces in grief and set in sombre shadows really worked.

This WNO production with a gender mix, subdued lighting and an ensemble in mourning was very watchable, coupled with world events it made me weep.

Living in North Somerset it is good to get into the city for a great helping of culture and it did what it said on the tin ‘a dazzling kaleidoscope of music, dance, and theatre where flamenco meets opera through traditional Spanish singing.’

The bullfighting imagery highlighted the physical brutality of war and in the story the bare-chested dancers come from Granada where the barbaric practice is still legal.

We went to two authentic flamenco shows at Poble Espanyol while holidaying in Barcelona and the sharp heels stomp remind you of the fascists goose-stepping march.

Reading Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell many years ago the memories of the horrors of the Spanish civil war 1936-1939 came flooding back.

The statues dancing, waving fringed Spanish shawls, the reference to persecuted minorities, the slender hope of escaping to Cuba and  the battle cry of ‘for each one of them they kill we will kill ten-fold’ these were my most poignant moments in the production.

Deborah Colker was responsible for the Rio 2016 Olympics Ceremony; Cirque du Soleil described as ‘austere’ and perhaps this production echoes this certainly some of the imaginery.

Ainadamar, Arabic for 'fountain of tears', is the ancient well near Granada where the Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca – labelled by the Falangist militia as a 'homosexual socialist' – was brutally executed in 1936 during the civil war.

Ainadamar is the first opera by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov.

The libretto was written by American playwright David Henry Hwang and translated from English into Spanish by the composer.

The conductor on Tuesday evening for the one hour 20 minutes oerformance was Matthew Kofi Waldren and the international cast was led with aplomb by a trio of haunting female voices which included Argentinian soprano Jaquelina Livieri (Margarita Xirgu) and Polish mezzo-soprano Hanna Hipp (Federico García Lorca).

Joining the two were rising star, Colombian soprano Julieth Lozano Rolong (Nuria), who has recently been crowned Cardiff Singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Audience Prize winner, as well as Andalucian flamenco singer Alfredo Tejada (Ruiz Alonso).

It is up there with the fantastic four-hour performance of William Tell by the Welsh National Opera back in 2015 which we still talk about to this day.

On Thursday, and Saturday, October 19 and 21 the company perform a more traditional opera, La traviata.

Online tickets from £13 plus booking fee by clicking HERE.

Viva la República!

Hanna Hipp as Federico García Lorca and Ensemble in WNO Ainadamar 2023 Credit Johan Persso
Hanna Hipp as Federico García Lorca in WNO Ainadamar 2023 Credit Johan Persson _06243.jpg
Isaac Tover as Bullfighter Dancer in WNO Ainadamar 2023 Credit Johan Persson_00815.jpg

PHOTOS:  © Johan Persson

bottom of page