La Piccola Cubana


Music by

Hans Werner Henze,  Arrangement for
chamber ensemble by Jobst Liebrecht

Text by

Hans Magnus Enzensberger after Miguel Barnet

»La piccola Cubana« tells the turbulent story of variété singer Rachel against the backdrop of social upheavals in pre-revolutionary Cuba. Long after the world premiere in 1974, Hans Werner Henze and Hans Magnus Enzensberger discussed a chamber music version of their television opera »La Cubana«, inspired by elements of songspiel, which will now be performed in an arrangement by Jobst Liebrecht.

In 1969 the writer Miguel Barnet published his novel »Rachel’s Song«, a fictional »eye-witness account« of shifting social conditions in Cuba. Tivoli and circus stages form the settings for Rachel’s narratives, combining memory and illusion. For the composer Hans Werner Henze, who travelled around Cuba, the country was a place of magical appeal that inspired him politically and artistically. In the early 1970s together with Hans Magnus Enzensberger, he conceived the opera »La Cubana oder ein Leben für die Kunst« (»La Cubana or a Life for Art«). A libretto revision with the title »La piccola Cubana« and the concertante »Lieder und Tänze aus der Operette La Cubana« (»Songs and Dances from the Operetta La Cubana«) were produced as counterparts to the large-scale production of »La Cubana«. These are the textual and instrumental basis for the arrangement that Henze could not finish before his death in 2012.