The Empty Hours (Las horas vacías) is an opera / monodrama written by Spanish composer Ricardo Llorca about a lonely woman addicted to the internet who lives in her own fantasy world. “It is an attempt to explore a psychological process, so common in contemporary Western society, which is one of the most extreme, disturbing and painful a human being can go through: the loneliness and the increasing feeling of emptiness in the developed Western societies,” says the composer.
The Empty Hours arose from Llorca’s growing interest in juxtaposing and combining traditional techniques with elements of contemporary music. Italian and Spanish Renaissance music and 17th-century operatic recitatives, blended with a more contemporary language, have served as the principal source of thematic and structural inspiration for this work. The opera is based on a true story that has taken place in New York. It has a dual character, at once traditional and contemporary, which makes it all the more comprehensible to a wider audience. A coherent narrative reveals the fragmentation of society, the isolation, and the loss of identity that accompanies technology – some of the most widespread and unsettling social maladies of our time. The duality of the main character in the opera is further emphasized by splitting the Lonely Woman’s part, both sung and spoken, between two performers – singer (Agnė Stančikaitė) and actress (Monika Valkūnaitė).
The first production of this opera in Lithuania was initiated by the renowned Spanish conductor of Lithuanian descent and current Artistic Director of the New York Opera Society, Alexis Soriano, who has acted as music director in several previous productions of The Empty Hours. The premiere performance of the Lithuanian production took place during the “Music of Changes” Festival at the Klaipėda Concert Hall, on September 17, 2020.