Major Operas | L’heure espagnole by Maurice Ravel | Modern Era

Composed: 1907–09
Premiered: 1911, Paris
Libretto by Franc-Nohain, after his own play

Ramiro, a muleteer, brings a watch for repair to Torquemada’s workshop in Toledo. Concepcion reminds her husband that it is Thursday, when he has to wind all the municipal clocks. He asks Ramiro to wait until he gets back. Concepcion, however, is expecting her lover, the poet Gonzalve. She asks Ramiro to carry upstairs a large, heavy clock. She tells Gonzalve not to waste their time alone, but soon tires of his extravagant poetics. When Ramiro returns she says she has changed her mind. He should bring down the clock and take up another. She pushes Gonzalve into the second clock. Don Inigo, a banker and another admirer, enters. Ramiro returns with the first clock, picks up the second (with Gonzalve inside) and goes upstairs, followed by Concepcion. She cannot help admiring his muscles of iron, but is concerned that Gonzalve might get seasick. Inigo is feeling left out and squeezes into the first clock. Ramiro ponders on the complexity of clocks and women. Concepcion finds that the clock upstairs has stopped working and sends Ramiro to fetch it. She is not amused by Inigo’s cuckoo imitations. The two clocks are swapped over. Gonzalve refuses to leave his clock. Ramiro is most taken with Concepcion’s charms. It takes only one word to make him go back for Inigo’s clock. She delivers a tirade against her two hopeless lovers. She then invites Ramiro upstairs, without a clock. Inigo is stuck inside his. Gonzalve gets out, but hides inside again when Torquemada returns. Torquemada, noticing the remarkably close attention they are paying to the clocks, makes two immediate sales. Concepcion and Ramiro return. With one last effort Inigo is freed. It is the muleteer’s turn for love.

Personalities | Maurice Ravel | Modern Era | Opera


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