By Manuel deFalla
Composed in 1915
The El Amor is de Falla’s best-known work, and contains his most recognizable music. He originally composed it in 1915 to accompany a two-act theatrical ballet, complete with narration, dance and song. De Falla later transformed the work into an orchestral suite interspersed with songs which keep the essence of the original ballet.
The plot centers on a gypsy girl, Candelas. While mourning her dead (but faithless) husband, she has fallen in love with Carmelo, a handsome gypsy youth. Unfortunately for Candelas, her dead husband comes back from the grave to haunt her and prevent her from consummating her love with Carmelo. With the help of her friend, Lucia, Candelas devises a ruse to trick the specter. Outwitted, the specter loses his fight, enabling Candelas and Carmelo to exchange the kiss of perfect love.
The piece is divided into ten separate sections each describing parts of the story. It combines Andalusian and flamenco motifs into a work at once lyric, mystical, and powerful. The “Ritual Fire Dance” (#5) is the most famous of the ten sections. The songs describe, in turn, Candelas’ mixed feelings of love and sorrow for her dead husband (#2); the fickleness of love, which is compared to a “will-o’-the-wisp” (#7); Candelas reproaching her dead husband, who did not merit her love (#9); and her final triumph amid the pealing bells of daybreak (#10).