Documentary about the creative process of the new opera of the composer Raquel García-Tomás (1984), Spanish National Music Award 2020, from the moment she decides to rescue Alexina Barbin’s story, one of the first intersex people to be recognized as it in the nineteenth century in France, until its première at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.
At her 38 years old Raquel García-Tomás, a young woman from the working class Besòs neighbourhood, becomes the second composer woman in history to present an opera in The Gran Teatre del Liceu’s main auditorium. Besides, she does it by recovering Alexina B.’s memoirs, the first person in history to be recognized as intersex.
The documentary tells Raquel García-Tomás story of overcoming, who, as Alexina herself, manages to do her bit for social transformation in order to break gender and sex inequality. An invisible thread that links the struggles for equality from the 19th century to the present day.
The composer undertakes the composition process of her new opera Alexina B., based on Herculine Barbin’s memoirs (Mes souvenirs, 1868) and collected in philosopher Michel Foucault book entitled “Herculine Barbin dite Alexina B.” (1980), thanks to the impetus of BBVA Foundation Scholarship program “Becas Leonardo a Investigadores y Creadores Culturales 2020”, that she has obtained along with the Galician artistic and stage director Marta Pazos and the French lyricist Irène Gayraud. Together they will explore the pressures faced by an intersex person in the nineteenth century in France.
The documentary revolves around three core topics. On the one hand, it discovers to the general public the professional and personal career of Raquel García-Tomás, specialised in multidisciplinary creation and Spanish National Music Prize 2020, and her immeasurable talent, which she has demonstrated with international jointly creations with the English National Ballet, the Royal Academy of Arts or Dresdner Musikfestspiele, among others. On the other, the documentary narrates the composition, creation and production process of Alexina B.’s opera, starting from Raquel’s work, the three creators, the project’s technical and artistic team and the institution which produces and supports the play, which will culminate in the grand premiere at the Liceu Theatre during 2022-23 season. The third and final film core topic responds to the desire to raise intersex visibility. Starting from Herculine Barbin’s tragic story, and throughout this collective witnesses and their relationship with Raquel, we explore this condition both from the historical point of view as well as current activism.
Entwining these topics, Alexina B. challenges how sexual diversity is understood, the normalisation of bodies and gender construction and portrays a moment of social, cultural and political change in contemporary society and its institutions.
Alexis Borràs Izquierdo
Anna Casacuberta Palmarola