Personalities | Alberto Ginastera | Modern Era | Opera
One of the most important South American composers of the twentieth century, Ginastera combined energetic Argentine rhythms with enchanting lyricism and an almost hallucinatory ambiance to forge his unique style. He lived in New York on a Guggenheim Fellowship from 1945–48 before returning to Argentina. Here, he experimented with advanced composition techniques, yet his three operas – Don Rodrigo (1964), Bomarzo (1967) and Beatrix Cenci (1971) – belong to his later neo-expressionistic period and are steeped in the school of serialism.
The most accessible of these, Don Rodrigo, is drawn from a Spanish legend about heroism and depicts this theme by way of a complete 12-tone row. Fragments of the row underscore the action as well as the feelings of the central characters. Contrived as the serial format may be, the opera has an immediate impact upon the listener – in the final scene, 24 bells are placed throughout different parts of the theatre to proclaim the restoration of Christianity to Spain. Bomarzo and Beatrix Cenci were commissioned and performed in Washington, D.C., yet Bomarzo was banned in Buenos Aires due to its depictions of sex and violence.
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