Archive for October, 2011

A story of fight for freedom and love

October 24, 2011

She was Mariana Pineda Munoz and he was Federico García Lorca. Both were born in the Granada area in southern Spain, both lived during eras of great changes, and both found their violent death there, as young innocent people, guilty of nothing but their liberal political orientation.

Mariana was born in 1804, and at 18 she was already a widow with two children. By the age of 21 she had become a political activist and sympathizer with the liberal underground against King Fernando VII, and begun to be active in it, taking part in facilitating her cousin Pedro de Sotomayor’s escape from prison, an important liberal and freedom fighter who had been sentenced to death for conspiracy.

When Mariana was 27, in 1831, a police search at her home revealed a flag on which the words “Igualdad, Llibertad y, Ley”  (“Equality, Liberty, Law”)  were embroidered. During the trial the judge offered Mariana to escape the death penalty by naming the liberal underground members. Mariana refused and on May of that year she was publicly executed. The Liberals did nothing to help her in her legal defense or escape.

Mariana Pineda became a Granada folk heroine. At the turn of the 19th century, the child Federico García Lorca would hear songs and stories about her from the servants in his home; later he would live not far away from her statue in Granada. Almost one hundred years after Mariana’s death, in 1925, he wrote the play “Mariana Pineda”.

The play plot is very much parallel to history. Mariana and Pedro are freedom fighters, and Pedrosa,Granada’s police commander,  loves Mariana. But Mariana harbors a great passion for Pedro.Mariana loves him for his fight for freedom, she becomes liberal and  embroiders the flag because of this love. She puts everything aside, even her children, and thinks of nothing but him. Pedro on the other hand is only interested in saving his life. He loves the fight for freedom more than he loves Mariana. In the end, the representative of the law and disappointed lover Pedrosa is the one to bring on Mariana’s destruction. She believes that her love will bring Pedro to act to save her, but it is turns out to be a cruel illusion.

Mariana tells Pedro: “Youlove freedom more than your Marianita? I will be the same freedom that you adore!” The heroine realizes that the ultimate feelings of love and freedom are being  close to each other and both can’t prevail in the authoritarian, conservative world – they are  in a contradiction to it. “I am free because I wanted to love… I am the freedom wounded by men!” Mariana says from far away towards the end of the play.

The struggle for love and freedom was exactly  Lorca’s own destiny. He was a liberal and homosexual who couldn’t show his inclinations freely in a conservative society. His yearning for liberalism and personal freedom brought his death when he was shot by the Nationalist militia in the beginning of the civil war in Spain in 1936. He was 38 when he died.In a prophetic way, “Mariana Pineda” foretells its author’s own fate.

The Greek people and its writers have much affection towards Lorca’s works. It was especially significant in the 70s in the time of the dictatorship, but also at present. “Ah.. Erota”- Ah.. Love, is an album of Lorca’s songs which was  recorded in 1974, and was released to great acclaim. Leftheris Papadopoulos translated and Christos Leontis composed the music. “Day full of sorrow” describes Mariana’s tragedy and Pedro’s philosophy:

Day full of grief in Granada

even her stones cry

as they see her die on the gallows

beautiful Mariana for she didn’t betray


I am a borderless man

and I go where I like

I am at odds with the leader

I don’t ask anybody

Hai hai hai

set up dancing, girls


Hai hai hai

Set up dancing

Hai hai


Day full of grief in Granada

even her stones cry

as they see her die on the gallows

beautiful Mariana for she didn’t betray

Manolis Mitsias and Tania Tsanaklidou:

An audio of the song:

Mera gemti tlipsi-Day full of grief

Lyrics: Federico Garcia Lorca/Leftheris Papadopoulos

Music:Hristos Leontis

Vcals: Mnolis mitsias and Tania Tsanaklidou

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