Bernarda Alba
Bernarda Alba
Words and Music by Michael John LaChiusa | Based on the play
A perfect show for a strong female cast, BERNARDA ALBA is a masterwork by Michael John LaChiusa, who has brought us such critically acclaimed hits as THE WILD PARTY and MARIE CHRISTINE. LaChiusa brings a musical voice to Federico Garcia Lorca's final 1936 masterpiece, The House of Bernarda Alba, through pulsing castanets, trilling Spanish guitars and resounding rhythmic stomps. BERNARDA ALBA tells the tales of a powerful matriarch, who imposes a strict rule on her household following her second husband's funeral: 'Not a breath of outside air is going to enter this house. It's going to feel like we've bricked up the doors and windows,' she proclaims. Bernarda's five daughters, however, struggle with her cold wishes. The girls' dreams and desires challenge their mother's harsh rules and the outside world begins to slowly permeate their isolated existence.
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About The Show

History for Bernarda Alba

Production Info


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News for Bernarda Alba

Trivia for Bernarda Alba

The birthday of Michael John LaChiusa, the writer and composer of musicals including BERNARDA ALBA, THE WILD PARTY, and MARIE CRISTINE.
In 2006, BERNARDA ALBA, Michael John LaChiusa's musical based on Lorca's classic play, opened for a limited and award-winning run at the Lincoln Center Theater.
In 2006 BERNARDA ALBA, Michael John LaChiusa's musical based on Lorca's classic play, closed after a limited and award-winning run at Lincoln Center Theater.

 Press for Bernarda Alba

  • Quotes
"Michael John LaChiusa has done it again. BERNARDA ALBA is fascinating, riveting, vibrant, and exciting." — Steven Suskind, Playbill, January 01, 2006
"A serious and seamless musicalization... shows off LaChiusa's native strengths: his grasp of the living rhythms of theatrical language, which pervades not only his music and lyrics but his expert shaping of the libretto; his eagerness to cut directly to the dark, despairing marrow of his material; and his raw, almost Gothic sensuality." — Rob Kendt, Broadway.com, January 01, 2006
"A serious and seamless musicalization... shows off LaChiusa's native strengths: his grasp of the living rhythms of theatrical language, which pervades not only his music and lyrics but his expert shaping of the libretto; his eagerness to cut directly to the dark, despairing marrow of his material; and his raw, almost Gothic sensuality." — Rob Kendt, Broadway.com, January 01, 2006
"Not just a good musical or a great musical, but a musical for the ages. That impossibly rare thing: an engrossing musical drama, so superbly integrated that all boundaries between speech, music, and dance blur and dissolve before your eyes... Like all great adaptations it eclipses its source. BERNARDA ALBA brings to arresting theatrical life the soul of Lorca's compact emotional epic in a way that will make it impossible to ever look at the original the same way again.” — Matthew Murray, TalkinBroadway.com, January 01, 2006
“Michael John LaChiusa has finally composed the impeccable tuner that cognoscenti have been awaiting with waning patience. .. this 90-minute, intermissionless compression of the hothouse play is absolutely stunning in every possible category.”

— David Finkle, Theatermania, January 01, 2006
"“It's even possible that, just as it's now difficult to watch George Bernard Shaw's PYGMALION without hearing the songs that Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe wrote for MY FAIR LADY, Michael John LaChiusa's BERNARDA ALBA will become more popular in this country than Lorca's grim, impassioned play. That's how powerful a work of art it is.” — David Finkle, Theatermania, January 01, 2006

Musical Numbers for Bernarda Alba

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Song Name
Character Name
Play
Other Versions

"The House of Bernarda Alba", Federico Garcia Lorca’s final play, on which this new musical, BERNARDA ALBA, was based, was written in 1936, the same year in which the illustrious Spanish poet and playwright was executed by General Francisco Franco’s militia soon after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Lorca became a symbol for the thousands of martyred Spaniards who fell victim to Fascist tyranny. For many years Franco’s government attempted to eradicate the memory of Lorca—his books were prohibited, a ban that was not officially rescinded until 1971. Given the subsequent circumstances of Lorca's tragic end, it is difficult not see his play as both a tale of a controlling woman in a man’s world, and as a political allegory.

The title character in the musical, played by Phylicia Rashad, proclaims that she and her household—her five grown daughters, her mother, her servants—will observe a long period of mourning, following the funeral of her second husband. "Not a breath of outside air is going to enter this house," Bernarda declares. "It's going to feel like we've bricked up the doors and windows."

The outside world of their village, however, seeps in. Despite Bernarda’s tyrannical measures the daughters’ desires collide with their mother’s iron rule.

Composer/Lyricist Michael John LaChiusa (MARIE CHRISTINE, HELLO AGAIN) brought the world premiere of BERNARDA ALBA to the Newhouse, an ideally intimate setting for the piece. Graciela Daniele (DESSA ROSE, CHRONICLE OF A DEATH FORETOLD, MARIE CHRISTINE, HELLO AGAIN) directed and choreographed.

Simply set on an almost bare stage to music inspired by the rhythms of flamenco, BERNARDA ALBA tells a story of longing, despair and desire.


Awards for Bernarda Alba

Vocal Range of Characters:

Photos for Bernarda Alba

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Writers Notes for Bernarda Alba


Written By: Michael John LaChiusa

I’d been fascinated with Frederico Lorca’s masterpiece, LA CASA DE BERNARDA ALBA, since I was a teenager. I remember my mom handing the play to me to read saying, “Here. And you think our family is crazy?” It would be many years later that I would consider adapting it into a musical. The idea to do so was initiated by the playwright, Richard Nelson. Of all the Lorca plays, BERNARDA seemed to me to be the most adaptable to the idiom of musical theatre; unlike BLOOD WEDDING, for instance, with its remarkable poetry and surrealistic narrative, BERNARDA is more rooted in a naturalistic language and story-telling. Although its theme is of the consequences of fascism and a thinly veiled screed against oppression, it’s more than an allegory. The characters are multi-dimensional, with quirks and flaws, not archetypes. Their unspoken passions and desires cry out to be given voice---and that’s what a musical does best, I think, revealing the inner lives of a character and baring his or her soul. While BLOOD WEDDING would (and has) worked well as a ballet, with its poetry adapted into unspoken dance, BERNARDA seemed a terrific source material for song and movement. I love exploring new music, music of kinds, from all over the world--and I’d long been intrigued by the complexities of flamenco music. Flamenco is incredibly intricate in terms of its musical patterns. Meter often divides itself into groups of twelve, sometimes with accents on “four” and “seven.” And the downbeat—what we consider “one”----typically begins on the upbeat, “twelve” or, in Spanish, “y”. I knew that I wanted to write a score influenced by flamenco: elegant yet primitive, exotic, with its Moorish influence yet wholly Spanish. Although Richard was unable to continue with the project, the choreographer and my frequent collaborator, Graciela Daniele, continued to develop the work for Lincoln Center Theatre and in 2006, we premiered BERNARDA ALBA at the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre. It was a gorgeous, passionate production with an all-female cast. To be sure, we were met with the usual critical complaints that it was “too dark” to be considered a musical; but I think that’s misunderstanding the show, if not the play its based on. It’s true that the story is a tragedy, but the theme of oppression, repression, and the consequences of suppressing our natural desires---denying what we love and what we are---are timely, and continue to stir questions about the human condition. Musicals, at least the ones I love and would like to write, are all about exploring and bringing to light those sometimes heartbreaking and provocative issues.


Written By: Michael John LaChiusa

The score is influenced by Spanish folk song and flamenco; vocally, this requires versatility from each actor. For instance, though a vocal role may be labeled “mezzo”, it will often require use of straight tone, sans vibrato (in American terms, “belt”, or “high mix”). 
The roles of the Young Maid and Servant double as the Stallion and the Mare, respectively. The Servant will also double as “Pepe”, the voice of the lover heard in Act I, Sc. ii (“Love, Let Me Sing You”), as well as “Antonio”, Bernarda’s husband, in the Prologue.
Dance, influenced by Spanish flamenco, plays a key element throughout. Much of the percussive and rhythmic patterns are to be provided by the actors, using footwork and palmas. This percussive element underscores several scenes, such as the Daughters’ sewing circle in Act Two, or the dinner scene in Act Three. 
The set must be minimal: a bare stage, planked with wood; a cyclorama of a white stucco wall with a large oak door in the center; ten chairs.
The orchestra should be seated above and behind the playing area, in view.
BERNARDA ALBA is dedicated to Ted Shen, with gratitude.


Performance Tools for Bernarda Alba

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Rental Materials for Bernarda Alba

STANDARD

  • BERNARDA ALBA - Orchestration (10 Books/9 Players)
    • 1 – Piano-Vocal
    • 1 – Full Score
    • 1 – Reed (see list below)
    • 1 – Guitar
    • 1 – Viola
    • 1 – Cello II
    • 1 – Cello II
    • 1 – Bass
    • 1 – Harp
    • 1 – Percussion (see "Materials Notes", under "Production Information")
  • BERNARDA ALBA - Rehearsal Set (22 Books)
    • 2 – Piano-Vocal
    • 1 – Digital Logo
    • 20 – Libretto Vocal

ADDITIONAL

  • BERNARDA ALBA - Perusal Package (2 Books)
    • 1 – Libretto
    • 1 – Piano-Vocal
  • BERNARDA ALBA - Pre-Production Pack (2 Books)
    • 1 – Libretto
    • 1 – Piano-Vocal
  • BERNARDA ALBA - Libretto Vocal 10-pack (10 Books)
    • 10 – Libretto Vocal

Cast Requirements for Bernarda Alba

PRINCIPALS
6 Women

FEATURED
4 Women

Comments
The score is influenced by Spanish folk song and flamenco; vocally, this requires versatility from each actor.

Bernarda Alba - late 50's, early 60's

Bernarda's Daughters:
Angustias - 39- years-old
Magdalena - 35-years-old
Amelia - 32-years-old
Martirio - 29-years-old
Adela - 25-years-old

Maria Josepha - Bernarda's Mother, 80-years-old
Poncia - 50's, Bernarda's Servant
Young Maid - early 20's
Servant (doubled with Prudencia) - 40's
Prudencia (doubled with Servant) - Bernarda's Neighbor

Set Requirements for Bernarda Alba

BERNARDA ALBA takes place in a house in a small village in rural Spain, 1930s.

'The set must be minimal: a bare stage, planked with wood; a cyclorama of a white stucco wall with a large oak door in the center; ten chairs. The orchestra should be seated above and behind the playing area, in view.'

Materials Notes

REED: Oboe, Alto Flute, Shawm [a medieval high-pitched wind instrument, with a double reed; an ancestor of the oboe], Bombard [a large kind of oboe or shawm, popular in the 14th and 15th century France, now obsolete], English Horn, Soprano Recorder [in C], Sopranino Recorder [in F], Alto Recorder [in F], Tenor Recorder [in C], Cana in A
*A synthesizer part is found only in the Full Score. In the original production, this was played by the conductor.
Dumbek, Triangle, Small Triangle, Mounted Tambourine, Large Ethnic Tambourine, Maraca, Drums, Snare, Bass (kick) Drum, High and Low Toms, 5 Concert Toms, Suspended Cymbal, Chimes, Finger Cymbal, Vibes, Shaker, Wood Block, Glockenspiel, Hammer (On Crate), Bongos, Castanets, Rattle, Puili, Cajon, Small Hand Drum

Media Rights

Promotional

1. The Promotional Video shall be recorded and shown for the sole purposes of advertising your licensed production of the Play. For such a video, R&H allows theatres to film up to 10 minutes of total footage taken at either a performance or rehearsal (i.e.: 10 minutes of scripted moments.)

2. The Promotional Video may not include more than (i) 1 minute from any song or (ii) 3 minutes, in the aggregate, of footage of copyrighted material from the Play.

3. The Promotional Video may not include any sponsorship or underwriting without the prior consent of all R&H.

4. The Promotional Video must be submitted to R&H by sending the source video and video link to editor@rnh.com.

5. The Promotional Video must include the following: "Rights courtesy of Rodgers & Hammerstein, www.rnh.com"

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7. Upon termination of the Term, you shall cease to have any rights to use the Promotional Video including, without limitation, in connection with a future production of the Play, and shall immediately remove its content from any and all websites on the Internet.

8. You may not use a commercially available recording.

9. Any additional promotional rights must be approved by R&H by contactingTheatre@rnh.com.

 

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Archival

1. Subject to the information provided in Licensee’s application and payment of the fee as set forth in Paragraph 3 herein, Licensee shall have the right to create a single copy of the Video for internal archival, private viewing purposes at Licensee’s address only and shall not be re-copied, distributed or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, in any media now known or hereafter developed without the prior written approval of R&H. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Video shall not be (i) sold to anyone (ii) telecast by any television station or network, including, without limitation, any local cable station or (iii) distributed, exhibited or otherwise exploited over the Internet or as part of any online auction.

2. Licensee agrees to include the following language at the beginning of the Video:

©Year By R&H Theatricals. This production was videotaped by special arrangement with R&H Theatricals for archival purposes only. All Rights Reserved.

WARNING: Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition of copyrighted motion pictures, videotapes or videodiscs. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and may constitute a felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000.00 fine.

This Video is provided to you for private, organizational and home viewing purposes only. By accepting the Video, you agree not to authorize or permit the Video to be copied, distributed, broadcast, telecast or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, in any media now known or hereafter developed.

*You must be and licensed to present Bernarda Alba in order to license Archival rights. Please contact customer service with any questions.

Distribution

1. Licensee shall have the right to create the Video and to make up to one hundred (100) copies of the Video for sale at cost to its Members for internal archival, private viewing purpose at Licensee’s address and for private, home-viewing purpose by Members, and shall not be re-copied, distributed or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, in any media now known or hereafter developed without the prior written approval of R&H. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Video shall not be (i) sold to anyone other than the Members (ii) telecast by any television station or network, including, without limitation, any local cable station or (iii) distributed, exhibited or otherwise exploited over the Internet or as part of any online auction.

2. Licensee agrees to include the following language at the beginning of the Video:

©Year By R&H Theatricals. This production was videotaped by special arrangement with R&H Theatricals for archival purposes only. All Rights Reserved. WARNING: Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition of copyrighted motion pictures, videotapes or videodiscs. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and may constitute a felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000.00 fine. This Video is provided to you for private, organizational and home viewing purposes only. By accepting the Video, you agree not to authorize or permit the Video to be copied, distributed, broadcast, telecast or otherwise exploited, in whole or in part, in any media now known or hereafter developed.

*You must be and licensed to present Bernarda Alba in order to license Distribution rights. Please contact customer service with any questions.
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