Opera by Osvaldo Golijov
TranslationFountain of Tears
LibrettistDavid Henry Hwang
Based onFederico García Lorca and Margarita Xirgu
August 10, 2003 (2003-08-10)

Ainadamar (which means "Fountain of Tears" in Arabic) is the first opera by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov. The Spanish-language libretto is by American playwright David Henry Hwang. It premiered in Tanglewood on 10 August 2003 and, after major revisions, the new version given its premiere at the Santa Fe Opera on 30 July 2005.

The opera tells the story of playwright Federico García Lorca and his lover and muse, Catalan actress Margarita Xirgu. A unique aspect of this opera is that the part of male Lorca is a breeches role performed by a woman. Subtitled "an Opera in Three Images," Ainadamar is told in reverse in a series of flashbacks, and involves Lorca's opposition to the Falange, accusations of homosexuality, and his subsequent murder.

The opera

Ainadamar has features of both an opera and a passion play, as it examines the powerful symbolic role Lorca has embodied after his death, especially among other artists. Lorca becomes a martyr in the name of freedom of artistic expression. The connections with the Baroque passion musical concept also occur structurally, as the work evolves as a series of arias, recurring choruses and dance genres. The symbolic aspect was emphasized visually by Peter Sellars in his staging for Santa Fe Opera.

Ainadamar also connects with previous operatic traditions, as in the casting of Lorca as a trouser role, in a manner parallel to other impetuous youths of opera, such as Cherubino (The Marriage of Figaro) or Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier). These characteristics have allowed Ainadamar to begin a successful performance run as a non-staged or semi-staged concert work.

Crucially, it appears that performances by a younger generation of singers may prompt an assimilation into the canon — and with it, an integration of the Ibero-American musical languages it espouses into Classical music.