“La Casa de Bernarda Alba” Opera Postponed Until Summer

The Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music, in collaboration with Cleveland Opera Theater, has postponed the world premiere of composer Griffin Candy’s opera “La Casa de Bernarda Alba” until the summer of 2022. 

“La Casa de Bernarda Alba,” translated as The House of Bernarda Alba, is the first opera commissioned through the New Opera Works Festival of Cleveland Opera Theater. Its development began in 2016. Since then, the opera has experienced three postponements–the most recent of which was announced in late December 2021. 

The opera was originally set to premiere on the weekend of February 3, 2022. However, the current projected peak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 would be during rehearsals and performances of the opera. Due to this, BW Director of Opera Studies Scott Skiba has made the decision to postpone the world premiere of “La Casa de Bernarda Alba” to June 9-12 at Mainstage Theatre in Kleist Center for Art & Drama. These dates are subject to change. 

Skiba said that the virus is “going to take people out of commission. The thirty or forty [singers] in the room are the only thirty or forty people in the world that know [the opera]… So, we made the decision to move it.” 

This postponement gives the involved students more time to prepare for audiences and will allow the rehearsal process to lean into a more professional atmosphere. Paired with BW alumnae who have worked on this project since the beginning, as well as Cleveland Opera Theater performers, current BW students will experience a professional rehearsal process.   

“I definitely was upset at first about it being postponed until the summer,” said junior Sophia Sorrentino, who plays Adela in the opera. “I’m, in a way, fine with it being postponed because this opera is extremely difficult and having more time to work on it and to feel more prepared before the performance is very great.”  

The new summer dates also allow for the possibility of outdoor rehearsals or performances in case COVID-19 again escalates. However, because the new date comes at a time of year when many BW students will have left campus, there is uncertainty about audience attendance.  

“With it being during the summer, not everyone is here anymore,” Sorrentino said. “So I don’t know if that’s going to affect how many people see this opera and how popular it is.” 

However, Skiba said he thinks that the audience rate will increase in the summer due to the current feelings of restriction and danger due to the pandemic. He said that in recent years, June seems to be a more favorable time to host larger events.  

“Hopefully, folks from around this whole region will be interested in it,” Skiba said. 

“La Casa de Bernarda Alba” is based on the Herederos de Federico Garcia Lorca play of the same name, and the opera will showcase an all-female cast. It follows the recently widowed Bernarda Alba and her five daughters as they embark on a traditional 8-year mourning period. The girls are stifled in their home under the harsh eye of their mother, sparking tension among the characters. 

The new opera includes music written by Candy, Cleveland Opera Theater’s composer of residence. It is coupled with a bi-lingual libretto, featuring both English and Spanish, written by OBIE-Award-Winning librettist Caridad Svich.  

With the postponement of “La Casa de Bernarda Alba,” Skiba and BW Conservatory students will be able to focus on a new project entitled “Operas [in place],” as well as the next opera, Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro,” which is set to open in March.