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A polyphony of characters, places and situations form the structure of La ciudad de las mentiras (City of Lies), a world premiere at the Teatro Real by Spanish composer Elena Mendoza. The opera is based on four stories by Juan Carlos Onetti. It describes a city in miniature where four women create parallel universes through dreams and stories to escape their own realities.  A world where lies are the basis of social relationships.

Starting Point

Inspired by four stories of Juan Carlos Onetti, composer Elena Mendoza and stage director Matthias Rebstock have pieced together a drama about the loneliness and fantasies of four women: two singers, an accordion player and a violist. Each hides, in her own way, in a parallel existence which is at once irrational and compassionate, an attempt to survive in a world of social hypocrisy, desperation and isolation of the individual. The action takes place in Onetti’s symbolic city of Santa María, one of interior spaces where windows and stairs are the only link to the outside world. The central point of this restricted universe is a bar. The men of Santa Maria gather here and give full rein to all manner of rumors and scandal. By way of their gossip, we discover the inevitable masquerades of the four women. Some are absurd and even tinged with comedy, but they are, in fact, much more worthy than so-called reality. In La ciudad de las mentiras, Mendoza has shaped a score of marvelous timbric grandeur, which takes us deep into Onetti’s pessimistic vision of the world. Here we have a chance to reflect about existential lies which are so difficult to admit, and from which very few escape.   


"La ciudad de las mentiras"

Musical theatre in fifteen scenes

Music by Elena Mendoza (1973)

Libretto and musical collaboration by Matthias Rebstock, after the short stories Un sueño realizado, El álbum, La novia robada and El infierno tan temido by Juan Carlos Onetti
World premiere

Commission and new production by the Teatro Real

Principal Orchestra of the Teatro Real
(Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid)

Production Team & Cast

  • Musical director: Titus Engel
  • Stage director: Matthias Rebstock
  • Stage directing collaboration: Elena Mendoza
  • Set designer: Bettina Meyer
  • Costume designer: Sabine Hilscher
  • Lighting designer: Urs Schönebaum
  • Sound manager: SWR Experimentalstudio Freiburg
· - ·
  • Gracia: Katia Guedes
  • Mujer de 'El sueño realizado': Laia Falcón
  • Carmen: Anne Landa
  • Moncha: Anna Spina
  • Díaz Grey: Graham Valentine
  • Risso: David Luque
  • Jorge: Michael Pflumm
  • Tito / Barman: Tobias Dutschke
  • Langmann: Guillermo Anzorena

Performance Dates

  • 20 FEB (M) 20:00h
  • 21 FEB (T) 20:00h
  • 23 FEB (T) 20:00h
  • 24 FEB (F) 20:00h
  • 26 FEB (S) 18:00h
  • Place: Main Auditorium

Programme of show

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