Composers and their stage works 



Federico García Lorca

Second drama of a trilogy on tragic love, standing midway between the lyrical Blood Wedding and the realistic The House of Bernarda Alba and representing a blending of the two strains in Lorca's plays. Yerma is a woman unable to conceive although she desperately longs to have a child. It seems that her barrenness results solely from the selfishness or impotence of her husband Juan. Soon it becomes apparent that Yerma does not love her husband and unwittingly has directed her sexual interests to a shepherd, Victor. Because of her strict observance of a traditional code of honour, she does not even consider Victor as a possible father for her much-desired child. Traditional morality has also formed her view of her husband's role, limited to that of procreation. Juan, realising that his wife does not love him, is fearful that she will create a scandal by infidelity.

As a last hope, Yerma goes to a mountain shrine popular with childless women. Juan, who has followed her, is suspicious of her motives and outraged by her presence there. In his anger, he tells her that he is happy without children and that they are not to blame for their barrenness. He does not clarify the reason for his abstinence. That he is sterile and sublimates his desire for fertility in the cultivation of the soil is suggested by the gossip of an old woman, who tells Yerma of a history of barrenness in Juan's family. Yerma, realising her marriage has lost the only meaning it ever had for her, strangles her husband in desperation. In murdering him she has killed her only hope for a son: she has committed a moral suicide in destroying the only reason for her existence.