• 3(afl,pic)3(ca)3(bcl)3(cbn)/4331/timp.4perc/hp.pf+cel/str
  • SATB
  • Main Roles: S, Bar, Ct; Supporting Roles: S coloratura, S, Mz, Ca, 3T, B
  • 2 hr

Programme Note

Lea, a creature who has belonged to God and exists to serve the divine pleasure (“pure instinct, crystalline sensuality”), lives in a place beyond time and cannot reveal her secret. The bearer of immortality, she is under surveillance from two monstrous beings who guarantee morality in opposition to individual freedom. This opera, the first composed by Benet Casablancas, to a text by writer Rafael Argullol, expresses the ideal that was the last of the Romantic Utopias: that of touching the Absolute.


L’Enigma di Lea is a story about love, grief and passion. This work is an homage to humankind for transcending the human nature and its limitations and a reflection on the stimulus to “reach the Absolute”, to use the terminology of the German romantics. The main character is thus free and pure, combining physical sensuality with spiritual love; erotism as a way of knowledge.
It is a real initiatory journey – or quest: looking for the lover in whose spirit Lea can appreciate the effects of a confrontation with a deity and with the violence of possession; as well as acknowledge the effects that emerged as a result of the vision of transcendence. Its emotional and symbolic core – the unifying thread of the whole story – may be encrypted as “a gleam of immortality”, i.e. the contact between the human being and a deity as generative power to create the story.
– Rafael Argullol –



At the beginning of the opera (intemporal), Lea is possessed by God while she is in a solitary dance. In the middle of this divine possession, Lea sees what immortality is and she becomes the owner of this secret. A choir of priests, in a timeless setting, proclaims Lea’s punishment for having seen too much: wandering throughout space and time. Two henchmen, Milojos and Milbocas, will watch Lea from now on and will remind her not to reveal the secret.
Lea begins her wandering through timeless space until she reaches the end of the world, where she encounters the Three Border Ladies. They announce her that she will find the Blind Wanderer at the Last Border. The Blind Wanderer tells Lea that he became blind because one day he saw Death bathing naked in the River of Time and glimpsed eternity. A duet between Lea and the Blind Wanderer takes place until Milojos and Milbocas interrupt them and avoid that Lea and the Blind Wanderer would develop a romantic relationship. The Blind Wanderer foresees that they will only be able to love on another and that, when they reencounter in a far future, he will recover his sight.

In the second act, the action takes place at the present time (2019) and in an institution with the name `Outsiders´. Lea has been imprisoned there with other outcasts. Within the group, Lea and a blind man stand out. Milojos and Milbocas, in contemporary garments, watch the scene. A choir of guards explain Lea’s wanderings throughout the centuries and how diverse artists, intuiting Lea’s secret, have tried to depict or sculpt her face to achieve an immortal work.
Following the choir, a director of a burlesque puppet theatre, called Doctor Schicksal, appears with makeup and looking very grotesque. The puppet theatre stages the attempts of Lea’s depiction: Three artists of three different eras – Miguel, Lorenzo and Augusto – sculpt Lea’s face. They do not use the chisel, but their own voices. Three different forms of love appear: virginal, mystical and sexual. Once the puppet show finishes, the choir of guards announces that an artist of our time wishes to reflect Lea’s face, but he is blind and imprisoned in this institution.


By the beginning of the third act (continuation of Act II), all prisoners dispel, except Lea and the blind man. The latter, sleepwalking, narrates his dream about Death bathing naked in the River of Time. Lea recognises the Blind Wanderer she met centuries ago. She asks him to portray her despite his blindness. Lea guides the man’s hands to her body until they finally make love before Milojos and Milbocas can stop them. Lea renounces her secret in exchange for the Blind Wanderer to recover his sight so that he can finish her portrait. The Three Border Ladies reappear in order to proclaim the wonder of love. Then a choir of spectators expresses their bewilderment at the triumph of faith amid the utilitarianism and mediocrity of the time. Lea dances by herself, as a symmetry to the dance at the beginning.


Benet Casablancas - L’enigma di Lea (A. Cook / Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu / J. Pons)


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