Laurencia is an opulent, spectacular and truly – in the positive sense of the word – theatrical ballet: scorching hot emotions and movements bursting with explosive power, in which classical steps are intertwined with fiery Spanish rhythms. Amidst virtuoso soloists and duets, harmonic ensembles and exciting crowd scenes unfolds a dramatic tale inspired by Lope de Vega’s play Fuente Ovejuna: the violent suppression of a budding love affair compels the community to rebel against the blind and brutal powers-that-be.
Nóra Rományi and István Rózsa have reconceived the visuals, based on the original designs by Vadin Ryndin, for this choreography updated by Michael Messerer to serve as the Hungarian National Ballet’s full-length production staged in 2020.
In the Spanish village of Fuente Ovejuna, all is merry animation as the villagers await the return of the Commander. As his campaign was a success, it is hoped that, contrary to his nature, the Commander will be kind and gracious. The villagers tease Laurencia and her sweetheart Frondoso. Laurencia herself also teases her ardent admirer. The violinist Mengo appears. Laurencia’s friend Pascuala asks him to play and get the young people dancing. The harsh sound of military music is heard and the Commander appears. The people give him a cautious welcome, but he does not pay much notice: his attention is drawn to the beautiful Laurencia. Ordering everyone to disperse, the Commander detains only her. Her friend Pascuala remains with her. Laurencia rejects the Commander’s advances. Annoyed, the Commander orders his soldiers to bring Laurencia and Pascuala to his castle, but the girls manage to escape.
In a secluded location by a forest stream, Frondoso reveals his feelings to Laurencia. But the capricious girl responds evasively. The sound of a hunting horn is heard. It is the Commander out hunting in the forest. Soon he appears before Laurencia and tries to kiss her. Frondoso fearlessly throws himself at the Commander, saving Laurencia from her hated admirer. The Commander vows revenge on both of them. A group of girls come to the stream to wash clothes. They are more occupied with chatting than laundry, especially as Mengo also arrives: it is always fun when he is there. Jacinta runs in, chased by soldiers. Mengo defends Jacinta, but the soldiers knock him down. The Commander returns. Jacinta begs for his protection, but he hands her over to the soldiers. Laurencia, now convinced of Frondoso’s faithfulness, impressed by his bravery and devotion, agrees to marry him.
The whole village merrily celebrates Laurencia and Frondoso’s wedding. One dance follows another, but the merrymaking is interrupted when the Commander appears, looking sombre. He has come to take his revenge. He gives orders for Frondoso to be imprisoned and Laurencia to be taken to his castle. The people are horrified.
At night the men gather together in the forest. They know they must fight the tyrant, but from fear and indecision they merely clench their fists and utter curses, they do not act. Laurencia enters unsteadily, battered and with her dress torn, but her will is strong and she is filled with fury. She shames the men for their inaction and calls on them to rise up and fight. Her impassioned call fills their hearts with courage. All the village women support Laurencia. The people of Fuente Ovejuna decide to enter the Commander’s castle.
Armed with knives, scythes, clubs, and sticks, the people storm in the inner rooms of the castle like a fearsome tidal wave. They free Frondoso from incarceration and set off to get even with the Commander. He tries to flee, but the peasants capture him. He offers them gold to let him go, but is met by an indignant refusal. The dead tyrant’s helmet set up on the pole symbolizes the victory of the people of Fuente Ovejuna.