top of page

Juana, la loca: Synopsis

Act one

Scene I: The Arrival.- In the center and full stage, the nobles and the people of Flanders celebrate the imminent arrival of Juana to marry Felipe. The singing of the choir suddenly fells silent as the ship that brought the Hispanic princess emerges. Juana appears with all the sweetness and simplicity of her 17 years and sings in admiration of the lushness and beauty of the flamenco landscape, so contrasting with the aridity of the Castilian plateau. Felipe interrupts her, shocked by the tender image of Juana and the infatuation is instantaneous. People and nobles sing the meeting while Felipe, captive of such a strong attraction, sends for a priest to celebrate the wedding and to consummate the union, without waiting for the festivities.

Scene II: The stage appears divided into three sectors. In them three different actions take place simultaneously, two of them mute while the other is sung, and so on, rotating successively. One of them corresponds to a furtive political meeting in Fernando's office, the other corresponds to Juana and Felipe's wedding night, and the third to Isabel's deathbed.

Scene IIa: Destiny.- In the central sector and upstage, there is Fernando's office, where the political expediencies of Juana's wedding are being secretly discussed. Only Lope de Padilla objects to the callousness of the ruling class towards the young woman and the manipulation of her future.

Scene IIb: The Night.- On  stage right, in the middle of a landscape full of sensual vegetation and nocturnal birds, with furrows of white water enervating the dense and suffocating geography, there is the place where the young couple lives their first night of love, initiating an intense passion that will not stop even in the face of death.

Scene IIc: The Inheritance.- On the left, accompanied by two nuns, Isabel the Catholic proclaims Juana as the legitimate heir on her deathbed. In a final stroke of melancholy, the mother remembers the affection and hopes placed on her young daughter.

Scene III: The Oath.- (Again in full stage) Isabel has died and Juana is received by the Cortes of Castile, who swear loyalty and fidelity to her as the new sovereign, while she promises to rule with equity, following the will of her mother . As a present for the occasion, the Admiral of Castile offers the dance of the natives of the New World. All distracted by the show and taking advantage of the situation, Felipe's glass is poisoned, apparently at the request of Fernando. In the midst of the hubbub, no one notices the prince's faintness until Juana herself approaches to invite him to close the festivities. With a heart-rending scream he verifies the tragedy, desperately trying to retain the life of his beloved.

Act Two

Scene IV: Stage again divided, this time into two sectors, with two simultaneous scenes, one silent while the other is sung and vice versa.

Scene IVa: The Obsession.- At the back of the scene, behind tulle and black curtains, Juana crosses the Castilian plateau clinging to Felipe's coffin, singing to him as if he were still alive and refusing to accept his death. Two nuns try in vain to convince her to bury Felipe's body.

Scene IVb: The Trial.- In the foreground, Fernando has summoned the Court (the Bishop, the Military and the Judge) to accuse Juana of insanity and claim for himself the right to govern. He uses as evidence the sad scene that unfolds behind, which seems to show Juana caring lavishly of her husband's corpse. Despite Lope de Padilla's defense, the court rules that Juana is insane and must be removed from her obligations.

Scene V.- The Liberation.- Locked up in a gloomy castle, Juana has been the victim of a destiny that she did not seek and stripped of her only youthful aspiration: the need to love and be loved. The ghosts of her life haunt her in a mixture of accusations and nostalgia. Juana relives, in her fragile balance, the moments of happiness of that night when she met love. But it soon becomes clear that her only chance is to free herself from her circumstance through madness: the freedom of the mad. With the choir demanding peace for Juana, the queen breaks her last ties with the world of reason.

bottom of page