by Michael Meigs
Federico García Lorca's Bodas de Sangre takes places in the stark and arid landscape of the mind. The setting is rural Spain, somewhere far out in the countryside, and the characters are peasant families. They have no names, with the single exception of Leonardo, the angry and frustrated young farmer who precipitates the tragedy.
García Lorca identifies the others by role: the intended groom (novio), the bride (novia), the mother, the neighbor, the father of the bride. The story is simple: the confident young novio goes courting and fixes upon an eligible young woman related to men who killed his father and his brother. We watch the courting and attend the wedding; we also witness the anger of Leonardo, who still burns with a passion for the novia even though their acquaintance was broken years ago when Leonardo married the novia's cousin.
|Jose Antonio Rodriguez, Anna C. Shultz (photo: Bret Brookshire)|
García Lorca had already achieved renown as a lyric poet when this, his first great success, was staged in Madrid for the first time in 1933. He doesn't fill these characters' mouths with abstractions or self-indulgent speculations, however; dialogue in the first half of the play is quick, sentences are short, and speech is often staccato. The early dialogue is sharp and cutting, much like the "little knife" that the novio's mother laments -- "A knife is such a simple object but it can take away the life of a man."
Contrasting with this energy are songs with imagery as lyrical as any of the author's poetry. In the second scene, Leonardo's wife and mother-in-law sing a cryptic lullabye about a mythic horse that refuses to drink; during the act two wedding preparations both servants and guests join in song, each offering a line or couplet.
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