BBC Music Magazine - - Opera -


Nancy Fabi­ola Her­rera, Gus­tavo Pena, Lidia Vinyes Cur­tis, José An­to­nio López; BBC Singers; BBC Sym­phony Orches­tra/ Josep Pons

Har­mo­nia Mundi HMM 902609 59:33 mins

Fol­low­ing de­feat in the 1898 war with Amer­ica, Spain saw a surge in in­ter­est in mat­ters of national identity. En­rique Grana­dos (1867-1916) was one of many artists who – while sup­pos­edly es­chew­ing overt pol­i­tics – was at­tracted to Goya’s cul­tural ‘psy­chol­ogy’ and ‘palette’, to which he paid homage in his cel­e­brated pi­ano suite, Goyescas (1909-11). Less well known is Grana­dos’s opera of the same ti­tle, util­is­ing themes from the suite and com­posed in 1915 fol­low­ing its suc­cess.

Cast in three tableaux, this live record­ing from an ac­com­plished BBC Sym­phony Orches­tra un­der con­duc­tor Josep Pons re­veals the opera to be re­ally a work of two parts. Tableaux one and two give prom­i­nent place to cho­ruses of Ma­jas and Ma­jos (lustily sung by the BBC Singers); or­di­nary women and men known for their ex­trav­a­gant Span­ish dress. Their function is to com­ment on a fas­tengi­neered, verismo-type love con­flict in­volv­ing two cou­ples, Paquiro (José An­to­nio Lopéz) and Pepa (Lidia Vinyes Cur­tis), and Fer­nando (Gus­tavo Peña) and Rosario (Nancy Fabi­ola Her­rera). Tableaux three fo­cuses ex­clu­sively – with echoes of Wag­ner – on the lat­ter pair, who con­firm their love for each other be­fore Fer­nando is killed in a duel with his sup­posed ri­val.

It’s an un­even scheme, not helped by the trite wordi­ness of Fer­nando Peri­quet’s li­bretto and a lack of ten­sion and char­ac­ter devel­op­ment. How­ever, the cast ac­quit them­selves well, if not with per­sua­sively fan­dango pas­sion. Grana­dos’s thick scor­ing some­times clogs the action but, none­the­less, it’s in the sweep­ing or­ches­tral in­ter­ludes that he shines bright­est here. Steph Power



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