Latin American tunes sway London's Royal Opera

Fri Oct 2, 2009 9:00am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britain's Royal Opera House will sway to the sounds of South America with a new work based on a short story by Chilean novelist Isabel Allende.

"Letters of a Love Betrayed," composed by Jamaican-born, British-based musician Eleanor Alberga, opens on Friday at the Linbury Studio Theater at the famous opera house, and after a short run travels around England, Scotland and Wales.

The piece, set against the scorched South American landscape, is Alberga's first opera and took her a year and a half to write, often cramming two days' work into one.

"I was surprised by the amount of time it would take, but that's because you have to think through what each character is thinking and doing and what their intention is and where the drama is going," Alberga said in an interview.

Librettist Donald Sturrock first suggested that she set Allende's short tale, from the collection "The Stories of Eva Luna," to music.

The tale recounts how the solitary Analia Torres is wooed by a man through a series of love letters, only to find that her marriage to their supposed author is brutal and loveless.

But fate is not finished with her, and when she discovers the truth about the letters she has a chance of redemption.

"I was very attracted to it because of the central character Analia -- her vivid imagination, deep spirituality, strength of character and what actually happens to her and the fact that fate plays a big part in the story," said Alberga.   Continued...