Gades's last show is based again on a literary work; this time the choreographer was inspired by one of the monuments of the Spanish Baroque theater, Fuenteovejuna by Lope de Vega. “With Fuenteovejuna I was particularly interested in the act of solidarity of the losers. Solidarity in the face of power. In these moments of fierce individualism, I believe that Fuenteovejuna is or should be relevant today”, said Antonio.
While Gades used flamenco dance as a form of expression in the theater for his other shows, now, driven by the demands of the script, he explores Spanish folklore, finding music and dances that help him sketch out the plot, according to the outline devised by José Caballero Bonald.
My idea was to do something more with that folklore, not steal it from the people and prostitute it, but to take its essence and do something else, tell a history with the movement. Spain is a melting pot of cultures. The customs, the costumes, the music, the way the dead are buried, changes every 20 kilometers. My intention has been to turn all this into a collage. I have researched folklore not as a professional, but as a poet researches history, to enrich oneself.
Fuenteovejuna toured the world non-stop for five years with the Antonio Gades Company, Antonio himself dancing the role of Fondoso for three years. The Spanish National Ballet of Spain staged the ballet under Antonio's supervision in 1998. Starting in August 2008, the Antonio Gades Company will stage Fuenteovejuna to resume touring the theaters of the world with the last great work by the Alicante-born artist.
The action takes place in Fuenteovejuna, a village in the province of Córdoba, and is inspired by an event that occurred in the 15th century in this Andalusian agrarian enclave.
The heart of the story revolves around the collective and solidarity struggle of a people against the tyranny of a despot, who in this case is represented by the figure of Fernán Gómez, commander of the Order of Calatrava and symbol of despotism and the immovable privileges of Andalusian ruling classes.
The people are helpless to the abuses and to the excesses of the arrogant and lusty commander who wants to impose his will on all the inhabitants of Fuenteovejuna, starting with the representative of the people and ending with the day laborers and the shepherds.
The commander treats his people like a feudal lord his vassals: aided by two henchmen who serve as confidants and accomplices, he assaults the girls of the village and mocks their husbands and their parents, demanding all kinds of taxes and tributes.
One of the commander's victims is Laurencia, who is engaged to Frondoso, a poor peasant. The day before their marriage, the commander meets the young couple in a field and tries to assault the girl. Frondoso defends her, risking his own life, and they both manage to flee. But later, the commander bursts into the wedding party with armed men and arrests the newlyweds. He beats back anyone who tries to stop him, killing some and sending others to prison. He then takes Laurencia to his home and rapes her in front of Frondoso, whose hands are tied.
Laurencia manages to flee and goes to tell her father, the village representative, about what happened. When the villagers hear, they start arming themselves with their work tools. In the end, the entire village, with its representative at the head, breaks into the commander's house and kills him, freeing Frondoso and beating the two henchmen.
The people spill into the streets to the cry of "Death to tyrants!"
The epilogue of the drama focuses on the investigation to discover the culprit in the commander's murder. The magistrate goes to the village and the people respond according to the following dialogue:
Who killed the commander? / Fuenteovejuna, sir. / And who is Fuenteovejuna? /Everyone.
The magistrate understands the village's reasons and no one is convicted. Justice has won.
(The last act of the process, as described above, has been excluded from the adaptation for the ballet).
Ballet inspired by the work by Lope de Vega
- J. M. Caballero Bonald and Antonio Gades
- Choreography and Lighting Design:
- Antonio Gades
- Anton García Abril, Modest Mussorsky, música barroca, Gades, Solera and Núñez
- Musical arrangements and selections:
- Faustino Núñez
- Folkloric dance instructor:
- Juanjo Linares
- Scenic and Costume Design:
- Pedro Moreno
World premiere: Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova, December 20, 1994
Duration: 75 minutes without intermission