Music with Ease > 20th Century Opera > L'Heure espagnole - Ravel
(English title: The Spanish Hour)
An Opera by Maurice Ravel
Opera in one act. First stage work of Maurice Ravel. Poem by Franc Nohain. Produced at the Opéra Comique, Paris, in 1911. First performance in London at Covent Garden, July 24, 1919, with Pauline Donalda, Andre Gilly, Octave Dua, Alfred Maguenat, and Edouard Cotreuil in the cast, conducted by Percy Pitt. First performance in New York at the Lexington Theatre, by the Chicago Opera Company, January 28, 1920, with Yvonne Gall, Alfred Maguenat, Edouard Cotreuil, Desire Defrere and Edmond Warnery in the cast, conducted by Louis Hasselmans.
The action passes in the shop of Torquemada, an absentminded clock-maker of Toledo, in the eighteenth century. It is his day for attending the public clocks in various parts of the town. It is also the one day that his wife Concepcion can enjoy her love affairs with complete freedom. As the clock-maker leaves his house, Ramiro, a muleteer, arrives to have his watch fixed. This annoys Concepcion, particularly as Torquemada invites the customer to await his return. In despair Concepcion wonders what to do with the unwelcome visitor. Equally embarrassed, he offers to carry to her room one of the large clocks which her husband has declared too heavy for him to lift.
While he takes the clock to the other room Concepcions lover Gonzalve appears. During the muleteers absence he is hidden in a large grandfathers clock. There follows an interchange of clocks, and the unsuspecting muleteer carries Gonzalve into Concepcions room. Inigo, a banker, and another gallant enters. He, too, is hidden in a clock. Thus another switching of timepiece effects a change in lovers. But the muleteer, by his prowess and strength has won Concepcions admiration, and she transfers her flirtation to him. While they are in another room Torquemada returns. He finds two dejected philanderers hidden in his clocks. Concepcion and Ramiro enter. The husband, however, probably believes that there is safety in numbers for the opera ends in a sparkling quintet.