Bernarda Alba, an adaptation of the sinister Federico García Lorca drama, explores themes similar to the ones explored in See What I Wanna See. In composing Bernarda Alba, however, LaChiusa has captured the realism of tension and repression in Andalusia at the same time he remains dedicated to the spirit of Lorca. Infused with Spanish cadences and the indicators of progressive musical theater, Bernard Alba is unparalleled.
Bernarda Alba boasts an engrossing score its ten-woman ensemble delivers with perfection. Its combination of “hummable” and “unhummable” numbers is a revelation—the hummable numbers heighten and compliment the unhummable numbers LaChiusa unveils during certain dramatic moments. One of the strengths of the work is the changing perspective. Bernarda Alba is named for the matriarch in the narrative but each of her five daughters is afforded an existentialist and stream of consciousness aria during Act II. Each aria enlivens each daughter and provides the viewer with an understanding of each of their frames of mind. Under the direction of Graciela Daniele, the ten-woman ensemble facilitates the changing of perspective with assistance from simple gesture and chiaroscuro lighting that draw attention to dramatic movements in the music and dramatic moments in the narrative structure.
Daphne Rubin-Vega is Martirio, the ugliest of the five daughters. Forced into perpetual mourning and isolation after the death of her father, Rubin-Vega uses her raw and evocative talents to complete her character. She is phenomenal. Droll, Judith Blazer is perfect as ambivalent Magdalena. Yolande Bevan is affecting as Maria Josefa, the senile mother of the matriarch.
Bernarda Alba is amazing. Surpassing See What I Wanna See in terms of resonance and content, Bernarda Alba reigns supreme.