The Zarzuela Theater in Madrid will present "Dalí" in 2004; The Liceu Theater in Barcelona has not yet decided.
The Liceu has forecasted a program with the opera "Gaudí" in 2004, which will perhaps premiere at "El Grec" in 2002.
Gaudí and Dalí go to the opera
Gaudí and Dalí are prepared to hit the stage, each as the protagonist of new operas. And they are knocking on the door of the Liceu, or any theater that wants to have them, after they have been reincarnated in the corresponding librettos and musical scores. Two great artists, two universal Catalonians, served up by the texts of well-known authors, Josep Maria Carandell (Barcelona, 1934) and Jaime Salom (Barcelona, 1925), and by the music of two outstanding composers from what is called "the Generation of 51", Joan Guinjoan (Riudoms, 1931) and Xavier Benguerel (Barcelona, 1931). It is the goal of the Liceu to program the opera "Gaudí" for October or November of 2004, and achieve a co-production. In this case, the premeire could be produced earlier, during the Summer of 2002, at the "Festival del Grec".
With respect to "Dalí," the Liceu is interested in presenting this work as well, yet no final decisions have been made thus far. Although, again, they like the idea of possible co-production. The Zarzuela Theater in Madrid shows a good disposition to present the opera during January of 2004, and also seeks co-production. Will it be difficult to reach an agreement between the two theaters? Let's remember that the Year of Gaudí is 2002, and that the Year of Dalí is 2004.
The opera "Gaudí", divided into two acts, lasting somewhere around 2 hours, was finished in 1992, and it has been only the abnormality of the musical life in this country which has kept it from premiering in the theaters to this point. Carandell, as much as Guinjoan, so linked to the area of Tarragona, were very strongly attracted to the the personality of Antoni Gaudí (Reus, 1852-Barcelona, 1926), and little by little became swept up hopelessly by his genius. Carandell, author of some 40 works, has dedicated four books to Reusian themes, and has been working for years now on an extensive biography of the great architect himself.
For the libretto of the opera - in Catalan - focuses mainly on the problems that exist in the realms of Cultural History and Art in the period between the 19th and 20th Centuries. They are based on these new thoughts that nothing is, nor feels, as firm and safe as it once was. A perfect symbol of this is Gaudí, a more realistic and more imaginative Gaudí. And with him, the "trencadís" (mosaic).
Guinjoan has had an absolute respect for the text, practically worships the melody, makes the voices sing (there are monologues, duos, and trios), introducespopular elements - although disfigured - in the Riudoms-Reus area, and has procured that the music alone will endure and assimilate itself as musci of the scene. The langueage is pantonal. There is meliodism - with points of reference --, quite a bit of percussion and balance between voice and orchestra.
There are also various "light motifs" throughout the duration of the play, but they escape from falling into the the topic by pleasing the public. The chorus is trying poliphonically. The idea is an orchestra of three, with four percussionists and the drums. At the end of the first sccene of Act II, is placed the ballet "Trencadis" (rupture and recomposition), 8 and a half minutes of brilliance, intense and powerful music which we have listened to on the master of the disc which will be introduced in Barcelona in March. "We believe that we have made…" say the libretist and composer, "…an Spanish, Catalan, and Gaudinian opera. With one descriptive part, and one expressionist."
The opera "Dalí" (provisional title), divided into four acts - unified into two sets of two, with an intermission in between - and with a duration of close to two hours, will be ready for next June. Jaime Salom (author of 40 plays, one of which was "Casia una Diosa" [Almost a Goddess], about Gala, the painter's wife) recaptures in his script (in Castillian Spanish) the greatest moments in the life of the Ampurdain (Figueres, 1904-1989): 1)Gala and Dalí meet in Paris, both leave for Cadaqués, and fall in love. 2) The couple is in New York; the relationship remained strong; introduction into the millionare circles of the City. 3) Years of triumph; great baths in money; the eccentric world of Dalí. 4) Gala in Púbol; there arose her love of "Jesus Christ Superstar"; the death of Gala; Dalí alone, dies, between flames.
According to Salom, "The play is about a realistic and surrealistic story. Written with the instinct of a dramatic writer. A general recap of the life of Dalí, his painting in front of the rest." Benguerel has composed music which is intimately linked to the text. In an atonal language, and utilizing in the instrumental part that which has most interested everyone of the 20th Century, the composer frames this score en the following line from the '80s ("Llibre vermell", "Te Deum").
The voices sing "naturally". There is great care taken with way things are acted and maximum respect for the pitch. There are some very lyrical fragments, "solos" (not Italian arias in the traditional sense), in those that flower the feelilngs, and three choruses (of surrealistic masks, with themes from the department stoores of 5th Avenue, of millionaires).
And in the third act there is a ballet inspired by the erotic circus of Dalían orgies. "The voice is rich in order to produce itself naturally," explains Benguerel, "If the music is not understood, the goal has not been reached. One should not confuse this with doing concessions. The music is my word."
José Guerrero Martín
18 February 2001