Ramón María del Valle-Inclán (1866-1936)

Ligazón / Liaison

Chamber opera in one act, with text by Ramón María del Valle-Inclán (from "Retablo" of avarice, lust and death)

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Ligazón was composed in Madrid between 1981 and 1982, thanks to a grant for musical creation from the Ministry of Culture, on the brief, but intense, "Auto para silhouettes" with which the "Retablo" of avarice, lust and death opens.

First edition of Ligazón (1926)

Fully conceived at the service of Valle-Inclán's dramatic text, Ligazón is developed in the form of a chamber opera, taking as a basis for its staging a small number of elements in each of its different aspects: from the unique set to the number of his performers (a soprano -la Mozuela (the Girl)-, a mezzo -in charge of the roles of la Ventera (the Innkeeper) and la Raposa (the Fox)- and a tenor -el Afilador (the Sharpener)-, slightly assisted by an actress and an actor, the latter -the Bulto de manta y retaco (the Blanket and Shotgun Bundle)- without even spoken intervention), along with an instrumental staff made up of only eleven players (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, a percussionist, violin, viola and cello). It consists of a single uninterrupted act, divided into five scenes, with an approximate length of 45 minutes.
Ligazón lacks a proper libretto, if we understand by such a text prepared for the purpose of being "put into opera". Valle-Inclán's language is so fiercely musical that any attempt at adaptation would have been sacrilegious. Therefore, the opera is based almost entirely on the text of the scenic piece, of which -except for a few, very few, deletions- including the stage directions, whose literary beauty has been safeguarded by their presence in the score, have been respected.
From the exclusively musical point of view, Ligazón moves within a free atonalism -except for some "wink" to popular music-, which at all times pursues the maximum approach to the text, with abundant moments of an expressionist character, especially in the points of great dramatic tension that characterize the end of Valle-Inclán's piece.
In Ligazón two types of musical treatment can be distinguished, clearly differentiated and always superimposed: that of the voices, sometimes recitative and other times cantabile, but continuously at the service of the prosodic conditioning factors derived from the text, and that of the instruments, more free and flexible. The third scene, however, flees from one to the other: purely declaimed between La Ventera and La Raposa, it acts as an intermission in the opera.

Program of the premiere of Ligazón (Cuenca, 1982)

Dedicated to my brother Joaquín, Ligazón was premiered on July 2, 1982 in Cuenca, at the Old Church of San Pablo, provisionally converted into an opera theater for the development of the I International Meeting of Chamber Opera for Young Performers. Its interpreters were the soprano Charo de la Guardia, the mezzo Carmen Sinovas and the tenor Alfredo Heilbron, accompanied by the Chamber Group of the Spanish RadioTelevision Symphonic Orchestra, under the direction of Pascual Ortega. The scenography and the stage direction were carried out, respectively, by Tomás Adrián and Luis Iturri.

With Luis Iturri, Pascual Ortega, Charo de la Guardia and Alfredo Heilbron,
rehearsing Ligazón at the Old Church of San Pedro de Cuenca (June 1982)

Greetings at the end of the premiere of Ligazón at the Old Church of San Pedro de Cuenca.
On stage: Charo de la Guardia, Alfredo Heilbron and Carmen Sinovas.
In the pit: Pascual Ortega and the group of musicians of the ORTVE


First scene. The action takes place in Galicia, on the outskirts of an inn. La Mozuela is required by La Raposa to offer her favors to the suitor that she and her mother have chosen. He tries to seduce her by means of a choker, but la Mozuela is opposed to anyone interfering in her life.

Second scene. After la Mozuela is left alone, a flute announces the appearance of el Afilador, who, upon making acquaintance with her, proposes to sharpen the scissors in exchange for a hug. After a sustained flirtation, the hug is reduced to a glass of anisette. The Sharpener does his job and, after drinking the glass, departs.

Third scene. La Raposa and La Ventera -Mother of Mozuela- maintain a dialogue in which each of them tries to make her witchcraft skills prevail over those of the other.

Fourth scene. La Ventera, in the same way that La Raposa did in the first scene, tries to convince her daughter to give in to her wishes, using the same choker. La Mozuela, enraged, shows her contempt.

Fifth scene. After la Ventera disappears, el Afilador returns. He brings his shirt torn and stained with blood. La Mozuela guesses that this is because a dog stuck its fangs in her shoulder. The Ventera, from inside the house, urges her daughter to enter, leaving the latch unlocked in case the suitor should come. La Mozuela tries to seduce to el Afilador, and proposes a liaison with him. She sticks the scissors into her hand, and while she drinks the blood from the waiter's shoulder, she presses his mouth with her bloody palm. They then disappear inside the inn. The shadow of the suitor crosses the scene. He clicks on the door. The leaf is ajar, and the shadow slides through the gap. La Mozuela raises her arm and breaks the moonbeam with the shine of the scissors. Through the hole in the window, four arms hang down a man's dummy with the scissors stuck in his chest.

First page of Ligazón


Excerpt of the Doctoral thesis de la Tesis doctoral Valle-Inclán en la ópera. Problemas de traducción intersemiótica (Valle-Inclán in the opera. Problems of intersemiotic translation), by José Luis Méndez Romeu.
Ed. Sial Pigmalión. Collection Trivium (Library of texts and essays) n. 58 (Madrid, 2022)


Premiere of Ligazón in Cuenca
By Carlos Gómez-Amat
(Review read during the radio program De Música of the S.E.R. Madrid, July 5, 1982

Ligazón, by José Luis Turina, is a great contribution to modern Spanish theater with music. That prolonged scene that its brilliant author, Valle-Inclán, subtitled "Auto para silhouettes", finds in the current music of the composer all the dramatic content he needs. José Luis Turina does not stop taking advantage of all the findings of contemporary music, but he does not feel bound by them for that. He establishes from the beginning a severe, somber lyricism, which sometimes drifts towards declamation, which produces an undoubted tension. Notes of traditional music appear in the songs of la Mozuela, but everything else is put at the service of a musical mind of our time, which perfectly understands its relationship with an admired text.

Cuenca recovers and premieres works by Julio Gómez y José Luis Turina, at the Opera Encounters
By José Luis García del Busto
(Review published in the newpaper El País. Madrid, July 6, 1982)

It is already an event that a young composer, recently reached thirty, composes and premieres an opera. However, the positive value of the experience should not surprise those of us who follow the firm musical footsteps of don Joaquín's grandson, who is undoubtedly one of the most gifted composers of the rising generation. The mysterious and tremendous Galicia that Valle-Inclán paints has served José Luis Turina to practice a musical theater that, being Spanish and today, shows cordial concatenations with the expressionism of the Vienna School.
I must not hide the fact that I was more interested in the orchestral part -full of personal touches and suggestive musical allusions that set and shade the scenic development- than the vocal writing.

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(Score and parts without watermarks available at www.asesores-musicales.com )