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Osvaldo Golijov, Ainadamar, Dawn Upshaw, Atlanta Symphony, Robert Spano (released on May 9, 2006)
In the year after that Santa Fe staging, most of the cast (including conspicuously silent Friend of Ionarts Anne-Carolyn Bird) went to Atlanta to make a recording with the Atlanta Symphony under Robert Spano. Golijov had reshaped the opera in Santa Fe, reportedly right up to opening night, and he continued to tinker with it during the recording process. That information comes from an article about conducting by Justin Davidson (Measure for Measure) in the August 21, 2006 issue of The New Yorker, which is largely a profile of Spano. (The magazine has a video excerpt of various conductors online, with Davidson's commentary.) The opera may never be "finished" for Golijov, but at least there is now a more or less definitive version on CD.
Kelley O'Connor and Dawn Upshaw in Ainadamar, Santa Fe Opera, photo by Ken Howard © 2005
However, Ainadamar has considerable appeal and will likely make a nice choice for sultry evening background sound (easy on the ears, by comparison with many other modern operas, certainly), beyond the growing market of those who have seen the opera staged. If nothing else, the price of the CD is justified by the opportunity to hear the final trio ("Venga, tome su mano" and "Doy mi sangre") as Margarita (Dawn Upshaw) is united in death with her beloved student Nuria (soprano Jessica Rivera) and the shade of Lorca (the unclassifiable Kelley O'Connor).
After my experiment with teaching William Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and of Experience in class last year, I am going to devote some time this year to García Lorca and Ainadamar, perhaps combined with Silvestre Revueltas's Homenaje a García Lorca and Crumb's Ancient Voices of Children. Since one of the supposed appeals of crossover music is to draw in younger listeners, I like to find out what my students think of it. In my experience, students approach this music more or less the same way as they do the Four Seasons or Beethoven's ninth symphony, that is, with a lot of skepticism. The fact that it incorporates "popular" idioms does nothing to recommend it.