El Divan del Tamarit: Song Cycle


The Project…

Kryshak and Dies’ objective in this collaboration is to set the poetry of Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) from his posthumously published El Diván del Tamarit (1940). The work will be an hour-long song cycle, not unlike the iconic evening-length song cycles by Schubert, Winterreise and Die Schöne Müllerin. Dies’ music, described as having a "sensitivity to subtle shades of timbre, exploitation of spare textures... and predilection for a certain ceremonial austerity that evokes ancient, remote, or hieratic ritual” (American Record Guide review of Albany CD agevolmente), will be the natural complement to Lorca’s symbolically charged, subtly nuanced, and consistently ascetic poems.

The Diván del Tamarit poems offer the reader an intimate glimpse into the mind of Lorca: one of the most renowned writers of the twentieth century and a casualty of the Franco fascists in 1936. The series of 21 poems consists of twelve gacelas and nine casidas, which hail from the rhymed, fixed verse of the Arabic/Andalusian style of Moorish Spain. Lorca adapts these forms to create a series filled with universal themes (desire, rage, confusion, love, tenderness) and more idiosyncratic themes as well: visits in the night, piquant imagery, and an homage to the city as an object of love (often referencing Granada). Setting all 21 of the Diván poems in their entirety and original Spanish will optimally display their full trajectory as a compelling musical journey through love, desperation, and death; Dies’ highly idiomatic music and Kryshak’s storytelling will further expose the poems’ beauty and pain, identifying Lorca’s struggle with his sexuality, loneliness, and separation from society as a homosexual male during the beginning of the twentieth century.

Written at Tamarit while hiding from Franco’s fascists, homoerotic tones appear throughout the poetry, blurring distinctions between the (common) gay experience of hiding the true self in seclusion with one’s own desires and the human hunger for inclusion in society. Like Lorca, the music will reach for the Moorish past of Spain, but re-reads it in idiosyncratic and contemporary ways, meeting the beauty and gravity of Lorca’s poetry and bringing it forward to modern audiences.

The goal for this project is not only to create and premiere a stunning new addition to the song cycle repertoire, but to share the gift of Lorca with a wide-reaching audience through a recital tour culminating in the autumn of 2021 (both in the US and UK*). This project endeavors to bring together the understanding of different cultures to show common humanity and bridge the gap between differences in thought through the intertwining of poetry and music in these times of contentious division. Ultimately, it is also our intention to record the work for distribution on compact disc and through digital media in order to bring the work to the broadest possible audience, so they may experience Lorca’s singular achievement in poetry with the atmospheric and emotional impact that music can bring.