Ravinia scooped the Chicago Symphony big time by assembling the same forces—including soprano Dawn Upshaw, conductor Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus —as can be heard on the spectacular 2006 recording of Osvaldo Golijov’s opera “Ainadamar” (Deutsche Grammaphon) right after it was released, but now the CSO gets its turn at performing this dynamic, evocative and profound work. Argentine-born and of Eastern European descent, Golijov has been able to synthesize a wide variety of music traditions into an original voice that is far more than the sum of its parts and which speaks to musicians and audiences alike. “Ainadamar” is Arabic for “fountain of tears” and the name of an ancient well near Granada where Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca was killed in 1936 by Fascist Falangist forces at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. That incident is told in sometimes ferocious flashbacks in a libretto by playwright David Henry Hwang while Golijov’s music movingly evokes Spanish flamenco, folk traditions, Arabic chant and musical cues, descriptions of which often surrounded the highly musical and mystical Lorca’s manuscripts. Indeed, there has always been a deep connection between Lorca’s poetry and the national art forms of Spain, especially flamenco and Spanish popular songs, and this work stands as a brilliant synthesis. Dawn Upshaw, the soprano that Golijov wrote the work for, performs in all but the Friday performance, when Jessica Rivera steps in to give Upshaw a breather. Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducts all of the performances. (Dennis Polkow)
At the Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, (312)294-3000. This production is now closed.