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An opera on the relationship between Salvador Dalí and Gala arrives at Barcelona’s Liceu

Barcelona’s Opera Theatre offers only three portrayals of the Catalan composer Xavier Benguerel’s opera ‘Jo, Dalí’ (I, Dalí). It is a four act opera, which comes to the Barcelona theatre for the first time. Xavier Benguerel is one of the most recognised classical music contemporary composers in Catalonia.

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17 October 2011 11:14 PM

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ACN / Margalida Amengual

Barcelona (ACN).- The tense, complex and ambiguous relationship between the Catalan painter Salvador Dalí and his muse and life partner Gala is the theme of \u2018Jo, Dalí\u2019 (I, Dalí), by Xavier Benguerel. The opera \u2018Jo, Dalí\u2019 is on at Barcelona's famous Liceu Theatre for the first time, but only for three shows. \u2018Jo, Dalí\u2019 has already run in Madrid. The work is the final result of an order from the Spanish Ministry of Culture, which contacted Benguerel to commemorate the hundred years of Salvador Dalí\u2019s birth in 1904. The Catalan composer had already been thinking about doing this opera since 1999, but it was with the push by the Ministry that the opera was finally finished in its current form. The opera is split into four acts and is based on a libretto by Jaime Salom. The story goes through the 50 year long relationship that Gala and Salvador Dalí shared; an intense sentimental, artistic and even commercial relationship between the two people. \u201CI was very scared to face the process of writing a large opera\u201D, stated Benguerel in the presentation of \u2018Jo, Dalí\u2019 in Barcelona. \u201CIt is one of the most dramatic things I\u2019ve ever done\u201D, he said. The opera will be on stage in Barcelona on October 19th, 21st and 23rd.


Xavier Benguerel started to conceive \u2018I, Dalí\u2019 more than ten years ago, around the end of 2004. However, it was in 2004, with a push from the Ministry of Culture, that the composer finished the opera in its current form. The Opera, split in four parts, explores the relationship between the Catalan Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and his mysterious muse and life partner, Gala. Gala was married with the French poet Paul Éluard, but in 1929 she met with Dalí and they started a relationship that never ended. However, it was a complex, ambiguous and tense relationship, which lasted for 50 years, until Gala\u2019s death at Púbol Castle, in Catalonia. The singers Joan Martín-Royo and Marise Martins are Salvador Dalí and Gala respectively.

\u201CFrom the very first moment I realised Dalí was a theatrical character; there are characters with a static life, but Dalí\u2019s is useful for one, two and three operas; he had a very diverse life that allows you for a very diverse orchestral palette\u201D, Benguerel explained. \u201CI could only represent the surreal world with a great orchestral palette\u201D, he affirmed.

Benguerel offered Jaime Salom the job of writing the libretto for this opera, because he is the author of the theatre piece about Gala \u2018Casi una diosa\u2019 (Almost a goddess). \u201CThe only recommendation I made to him was that he should take into account that the written word does not have the same meaning as words in song\u201D, Benguerel told.

\u201CI am a beginner in the opera world, and I am interested in an opera where instruments and voice are at the same level\u201D, Benguerel explained. In his words, the libretto and the music \u201Ccreate a crescendo\u201D. The two first acts expose the situation and the relationship, while the third and fourth are \u201Cthe most important\u201D, because they are \u201Cthe conclusion of this relationship; all the work\u2019s dramatic strength is present in those two acts\u201D.

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  • The opera 'I, Dalí' explores Salvador Dalí's relationship with Gala (by Jesús Alcantara / Liceu)

  • The opera 'I, Dalí' explores Salvador Dalí's relationship with Gala (by Jesús Alcantara / Liceu)

  • The opera 'I, Dalí' explores Salvador Dalí's relationship with Gala (by Jesús Alcantara / Liceu)
  • The opera 'I, Dalí' explores Salvador Dalí's relationship with Gala (by Jesús Alcantara / Liceu)