Margarita la tornera

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File:Placido Domingo - Margarita la Tornera cover.jpg
Cover of the 1999 live recording of Margarita la tornera with Plácido Domingo

Margarita la tornera (Margarita the Gatekeeper) is an opera in three acts composed by Ruperto Chapí to a libretto by Carlos Fernández Shaw, based on a dramatic poem by José Zorrilla. It premiered on February 24, 1909 at the Teatro Real in Madrid in a performance conducted by the composer.[1] An acclaimed recording of the opera came out in 1999 with Plácido Domingo and Elisabete Matos.

Background and performance history

Following its initial staging, the opera languished in obscurity for many years. Finally, through the efforts of tenor Plácido Domingo, who starred in the new production, it was revived in Spain in 1999.[2] This production was subsequently videotaped and shown on Spanish television. A CD of this revival, recorded live, was nominated for the 2003 Latin Grammy Award for Best Classical Album.[3]


The plot is based on an old legend, retold with variations in such plays as Karl Vollmoller's Das Mirakel and Maurice Maeterlinck's Soeur Beatrice, and in the films Das Mirakel (1912), Milagro de amor (1946), and The Miracle (1959). Margarita is a nun, and the gatekeeper at her convent. Don Juan Alarcon, an unscrupulous adventurer, persuades her to run away with him and seduces her. Margarita eventually discovers that she is only one in a series of sexual conquests by Don Juan, and returns to the convent to find that her absence has not been noticed at all. The statue of the Virgin Mary in the convent chapel has come to life and has been taking her place. As Margarita prays for forgiveness, the statue returns to its pedestal. Meanwhile, Don Juan follows, and is miraculously struck down by heavenly lightning.



  1. Casaglia (2005)
  2. Domingo and Matheopoulos (2000). p. 273
  3. Billboard (23 Aug 2003). Special Report: Latin Grammys. p. 33
  4. Webber (September 2003)