Purcell's The Indian Queen

Peter Sellars (stage director), Teodor Currentzis (conductor) – With Julia Bullock (Doña Luisa), Nadine Koutcher (Doña Isabel) – Teatro Real Madrid

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Vince Yi — Hunahpu

Julia Bullock — Teculihuatzin

Markus Brutscher — Don Pedrarias Dávila

Nadine Koutcher — Dona Isabel

Noah Stewart — Don Pedro de Alvarado

Christophe Dumaux — Xbalanque

Luthando Qave — A shaman

Maritxell Carrero — Leonor

MusicAeterna — Orchestra

Teodor Currentzis — Conductor

Vitaly Polonsky — Chorus master

Peter Sellars — Stage director

Christopher Williams — Choreographer

Gronk — Set designer

James F Ingalls — Lighting

Dunya Ramicova — Costumes

Program notes

A superb adaptation of Purcell's the Indian Queen, staged and directed by Peter Sellars and performed in 2013 at the Teatro Real in Madrid. Peters Sellars combines John Dryden and Robert Howard's libretto with a short-story written by the Nicaraguan writer Rosario Aguilar, La niña blanca y los pájaros sin pies.

Henry Purcell died in 1695, while he was composing his last opera The Indian Queen. His brother Daniel completed hastely the rich, visionnary and transcendental score of the great British composer. The Indian Queen is a semi-opera, a genre in vogue in the late 17th century. It refers to a work that combines music, recitatives and ballets. The Indian Queen is probably one of Purcell's less often performed stage works compared to his more famous pieces: The Fairy Queen, King Arthur and the opera Didon and Æneas. The original libretto deals with several loving conflicts against a backdrop of Caribbean war.

The libretto

The original libretto by John Dryden was supposed to be situated between Lima and Mexico before the Spanish invasion, developping how an impossible love story between the Queen of the Aztecs and the general of the Yncas will provoque an imaginary conflict between Yncas and Aztecs.

The adaptation of Peter Sellars describes the first contact between the Europeans and the Mayas of the New World, a personal and choral narration of the Conquista through the lives of two women who created a new culture.

The staging

Over three centuries after Purcell, Peter Sellars has imagined a fresh and original new version of Purcell's last masterpiece, including some of his most inspired songs, with a new libretto adapted from John Dryden and Robert Howard's libretto and the short story La niña blanca y los pajaros sin pies (The white maid and the feetless birds) by Nicaraguan novelist Rosario Aguilar.

Sellars removes Purcell's brother's additions to the original score, and adds songs from Henry Purcell's other works: "O Solitude", "Music for a while" and some others. He makes the love story between the two main characters deeper and gives greater importance to politics.

The casting brings together the French countertenor Christophe Dumaux and a myriad of young voices – Julia Bullock, Yi Vince, Luthando Qave. Choirs and music are wonderful. This sublime work combines song, dance, theater, music, painting and the history of literature. The Indian Queen is a co-production of the Teatro Real Madrid, the English National Opera in London and the Opera of Perm in Russia.

Picture: © Javier del Real

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