“I am twenty-five and, though I am still young, I am undoubtedly approaching the fatal end of my existence. I have suffered deeply, and I have suffered alone, abandoned by everyone!”, Mes souvenirs, Herculine Barbin
Alexina was assigned the female sex at birth and grew up in a convent. Later, when working as a teacher, she fell in love with a female companion. In a society where accepting differences was a complex matter and heterosexuality was the norm, Alexina re-defined herself as a man and changed her legal sex and identity to become Abel Barbin. Unable to adapt, however, she was reduced to solitude and ultimately killed herself.
This striking tale forces us to examine ourselves as a community and to see the damage our condemnations cause. It reveals the violence of religious and medical institutions and of a heteronormative society which permits neither self-assertion nor self-determination outside gender and sex binarism. With a libretto by Irène Gayraud and sets by Marta Pazos (who worked with García-Tomás on Je suis narcissiste, 2019), this three-act opera tells of a struggle for identity which, for Alexina, ends in a veritable leap into the void.