These themes lurk just beneath the surface of Omar Najmi's new opera, En la ardiente oscuridad. When Spanish playwright Antonio Buero-Vallejo wrote the play upon which the opera is based, he had just been released from a prison sentence as a political dissident under Francisco Franco's fascist regime. Post-war Spain, fascism, and the dynamics of political power are rarely far from the heart of Buero-Vallejo's works. En la ardiente oscuridad is no exception: Set in a fictitious school for the blind, the story examines power structures, rebellion, and conflict, all underscored by Buero-Vallejo's deep understanding of the human psyche.

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Philip G. En la Ardiente Oscuridad. Antonio Buero Vallejo. Arguably Spain's leading playwright of the twentieth century, Antonio Buero-Vallejo published thirty original plays. In the Burning Darkness was the first play he wrote. The seminal, and lasting, significance of this play was confirmed when an extract from it was read over Buero-Vallejo's grave on the day of his burial.

In the Burning Darkness describes a teaching centre for young people who are blind, where a false unity is maintained by a mixture of fear, coercion and diversion where, when persuasion fails, violence is resorted to, and where "education" is seen to play a part in the regime's ideological apparatus and to encourage the acceptance of pleasant and reassuring myths.

The play's principal protagonist is Iggy who, although blind like his classmates, is immediately seen to be different from the others because he carries a cane.

When Iggy makes a move on Jane, part of the Centre's golden couple with her boyfriend Charles, he begins to challenge and destabilise the values cherished by the Centre. Buero-Vallejo described In the Burning Darkness as a work "loaded with future", and that observation points the way to why it is being translated now. Although it emerged in onto a dreary and trivial theatre scene in Francoist Spain, its themes, such as blindness and anxiety of an alienated protagonist, can speak to modern audiences and have a universal, rather than merely parochially Spanish, resonance.

It poses a transcendental question about whether or not violence can ever be justified. The teaching centre and the blindness of those within is symbolic of post-Civil War Spain, where anti-democratic abuses were overlooked. The play operates on literal, political and philosophical levels. Challenging audiences and seeking hopefully to change mind-sets was the stock in trade of Antonio Buero-Vallejo as a dramatist.

As he once stated himself: "Se escribe porque se espera" "One writes because one hopes".


En la ardiente oscuridad

En la ardiente oscuridad. Antonio Buero Vallejo , Carlos Gorostiza. In the author's own words his play "aims to set down within a realistic framework, so necessary to the theatre, a nucleus of problems and passions involving man in general, and not blind people in particular. Accordingly, the play must be understood as a sketch of the tragedy of man and his destiny, a problem which again is acquiring legitimacy and urgency, outstepping from the serious Spanish theatre studies into the surrounding reality.


En La Ardiente Oscuridad (In the Burning Darkness)

A film of the same name was produced in The play centers around Ignacio, who is admitted to an institute for the blind, managed by Don Pablo. Everything there is so perfectly arranged that the students do not mind the fact that they cannot see. Ignacio, however, always refuses to accept his blindness and struggles to find his way around.

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