Golijov/Upshaw/CBSO, Barbican, London

5.00

Nobody divides the critics like the Argentine-Russian-Romanian-Jewish composer Osvaldo Golijov; no other classical composer so forcefully unites audiences. This is partly due to the white-hot passion with which he writes, and partly to the fact that his "classicism" embraces everything from ouds and pan-pipes to lap-tops and electronica, and that his vocal palette celebrates folk-song at its rawest and most visceral.

But there's one classical voice which he also celebrates – soprano Dawn Upshaw, who has been the muse behind several of his works. And she's the muse behind his extraordinary "opera in three images", Ainadamar: having recorded an excellent version of this for Deutsche Grammophon, she has now led the same cast for its British premiere.

In this work, which centres on the death of Federico Garcia Lorca, Upshaw plays Lorca's muse the actress Margarita Xirgu, who recalls his play Mariana Pineda, the story of a revolutionary's judicial murder in which he symbolically prefigured his own. Ainadamar is the Arabic for "fountain of tears", and is the name of the well near Granada where, at the hands of homophobic fascist thugs, Lorca met his obscure end.

The music which Lorca loved best was "cante jondo", flamenco's "deep song"; by having Lorca's murderer sing the most beautiful "cante jondo", Golijov fruitfully upsets our expectations, as he does by casting a mezzo as Lorca.

With its vast sonic canvas and multi-layered electronic effects, that recording sets a challenge for live performances. Here Golijov's sound-world – in which hoof-beats and gunshots morph into flamenco tattoos – turned the auditorium into a mysterious and menacing space.

In mezzo Kelley O'Connor as Lorca, Upshaw had her perfect vocal foil; no praise can be too high for Jesus Montoya as the fascist villain, or for the solo guitarists, or for the Atlanta Chamber Chorus, or for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano's baton. As the guard encourages Lorca to say his prayers, flanked by the bullfighter and teacher, the penny drops: this isn't an opera, nor even a cantata – it's a Passion tailor-made for our time.

Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Arts and Entertainment
Crowd control: institutions like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are packed

Art
Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices