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Island opera to portray legend of woman “buried alive” 

The spooky legend of a La Palma woman said to have been buried alive more than 200 years ago has inspired the creation of a new opera.

The island’s Cabildo says it is delighted to support the project based on the life and death of María Liberata whose story is known by many residents but not beyond.

She lived between 1722 and 1806 and was said to be a despot, moody, cruel and demanding women with the privileges of her birth. When she died, she was buried in a crypt in San Andrés, allegedly in a padded coffin.

However, for years afterwards, residents said they heard banging, screaming and shouting. The  legend says that decades later, when the grave was opened, she was found with a brick in her hand, indicating she had been buried alive and had tried to get out.

La Palma Cabildo has given a grant of 12,000 euros to support the writing of an opera which would be calle “María Liberata” and would be premiered on the island. It is a proposal by conductor and composer, Alberto Roque Santana, who will take charge of the score, and will feature a libretto by playwright Antonio Tabares.

Cabildo president, Anselmo Pestana said this would be “a unique and unprecedented” opera revolving around an historic figure by two quality professionals and they were very happy to collaborate with the project.

“María Liberata” will be a chamber opera in one act and four scenes, which will involve six people and a mixed choir. Its authors hope it can be completed before this summer.