Opera Prize 2022
Alexina B. © Photographer Biel Capllonch (with the collaboration of Albert Claret) i
The opera 'Alexina B.' is inspired by the life of Herculine Barbin, also called Alexina B., an intersex person born in 1838 in France.
Alexina detailed her life in an extremely moving account written in 1868 called Mes souvenirs. At birth, she was designated as female and grew up exclusively among girls: at first, as a pupil in a religious school and later as a young teacher in a boarding school. In this latter position, she fell in love with Sara, one of her fellow teachers. This romance shone through some years and led her to affirm herself as a man. After several confessions to religious authorities and medical examinations, the law accepted her gender as masculine and officially recognised Alexina as a man, changing her identity to Abel Barbin. But this gender change did not bring him happiness and, in his loneliness, Abel Barbin ended up committing suicide.It should be noted that, in a society in which heterosexuality seemed the only valid option, Alexina assumed that she was a man from the moment that she started having sexual relations with Sara. This fact led her, paradoxically, to lose Sara, as in their world –that of the boarding school– only women were admitted.
This is a story of the struggle for an identity which takes place between masculine and feminine. The violence of the religious and medical institutions, which could not accept a duality of sex or gender, should not make us forget the great power of decision and self-affirmation shown by Alexina, whose life is emblematic for today’s intersex community.
The first time that Raquel García-Tomás and Marta Pazos worked together, they discovered that there was a whole creative universe in front of them that they could develop together. After that first project - Je suis Narcissiste - which received a warm welcome from the public, specialized critics, performers, etc., the adventure of a new project was presented as a new opportunity to grow. In this case, the creative team has been completed with Irène Gayraud. In the CVs of the 3, presented in a previous point, we discover a multidisciplinary team where creativity is understood in a horizontal and consensual way, giving both the work and the creative process a point of view undoubtedly marked by the fact that all they are women, but also because they belong to a generation where limits are really just a mental border rather than a real one. Opera seen as a genre where the arts can be unified, but also including a social vision that allows opening the public's interest to new themes and new ways of expressing is fundamental for all the members of the Alexina B team.