ANTONI GAUDI, at 74, conducts the voices of the figures lining the basilica of La Sagrada Familia, in its early stages of being built — as JULIANNA, 35, appears in her pajamas and ANTOINETTE, 36, emerges out of the voices and gives a necklace to Julianna. Antoni goes to Julianna and holds out his hand, demanding the necklace from her. Julianna resists. He rips it from her neck and gives her a small notebook and pen. Julianna begins to write in the pages, as Antoni goes back to work, conducting the voices.
Her phone ringing and continuous knocking on the door wake Julianna. Her best friend KATHRYN has come to check up on her, worried because Julianna, a novelist, has not been able to write since her late sister Antoinette's death and has now slept through a celebration they had been planning in honor of Antoinette's birthday. As she and Kathryn talk about the dream of her dead sister, Julianna realizes the necklace from the dream is now around her neck. She struggles to figure out what it means as Kathryn continues to worry about her friend's fragile state.
Julianna decides that she must fly to Barcelona to find answers and Kathryn travels with her. They arrive ("BARCELONA" - reprise) and find themselves on La Rambla , the colorful and chaotic main thoroughfare of the city, accompanied by the spirit of Antoinette. Kathryn is immersed in her iPad travel app and Julianna, in her own thoughts.
An emotional moment between Julianna and Kathryn is interrupted by a gust of wind caused by the spirit of Antoinette, which causes Julianna to drop her guidebooks and attracts the attention of a handsome Spaniard, RAFAEL. Conversation ensues in which Kathryn describes Julianna's dream of a singing church and Rafael thinks he recognizes the necklace that Julianna is wearing. He suggests that they may be looking for La Sagrada Familia, the basilica that is the masterwork of Antoni Gaudi. Rafael offers to take them there and informs them that he works on the basilica as an architect and is descended from a line of men who have devoted their lives to fulfilling Gaudi's vision. Suddenly reticent, Julianna declines his offer and Antoinette intervenes again - another gust of wind causes Rafael to drop a piece of paper. Julianna picks it up and sees that it is an envelope addressed to her dead sister. Realizing that Rafael knew Antoinette, Julianna introduces herself. When Rafael asks if Antoinette is in Barcelona as well, Julianna must break the news to him of her sister’s death. The letter, a birthday present for Antoinette, contains a sketch of Barcelona’s opera house where she had hoped to sing one day. It is given instead to Julianna.
LI AN WEI, an opera singer from Shanghai, emerges from the stage door. Antoni introduces himself as a fan and admirer. He offers to walk An Wei to her next appointment, a meeting with the Maestro at Cafe Zurich.
Julianna and Kathryn sit at a table at Cafe Zurich in the present as the people of Barcelona set up festive stalls of books and roses for the Catalan holiday of love ("LA DIADA DE SANT JORDI"), similar to Valentine's Day. They are speculating about the nature of Rafael's friendship with Antoinette, when Rafael appears, accompanied by the unseen spirit of Antoinette. Kathryn asks Rafael about the nearby stalls, and he explains the nature of the holiday and that the books and roses are romantic gifts to be given to men and women respectively. Rafael gallantly gives Julianna and Kathryn each a rose. Antoinette causes one of Julianna's guide books to fall off of their table. Julianna picks it up, hesitates and puts it back on the table, thanking Rafael for the rose. He invites both of them to the opera for that evening.
Julianna is out for a jog in Barcelona's Park Guell, mulling over the events and coincidences of the previous day ("FLY" - reprise), when she runs into Rafael. The conversation turns to the sketch drawn by Rafael of the opera house in which Antoinette had hoped to sing, just as the original owner of the necklace, her great great grandmother who was a famous opera singer from Shanghai, had done in Gaudi's time. Julianna asks Rafael to tell her more about Gaudi. Time becomes fluid as a young ANTONI GAUDI rushes by, unseen by Julianna and Rafael, but observed by the spirit of Antoinette.
It is 1879 and young Antoni arrives at the stage door of the opera house, Gran Teatre del Liceu. He waits awkwardly.
Julianna and Rafael sit at a table in Cafe Zurich discussing opera and art. They discover that they are both in a state of artistic block, Julianna unable to find the inspiration to write, and Rafael neglecting his own painting and design to work only on the basilica. He suggests that she visit the basilica, that the work there may inspire her. Julianna asks him why it has not had that effect on his own creativity.
1879, Antoni and An Wei are walking together on La Rambla. He carries her books and they converse about their art and their families, their friendship and affection deepening with the passing days. Antoni presents An Wei with a necklace, made with remnants of stained glass from his workplace, and he helps her place it around her neck. It is the very same necklace that Julianna received from Antoinette.
Antoni kisses An Wei, and after a moment of passion, she inexplicably runs away. As Antoni pursues her, time becomes fluid and they pass Julianna and Rafael taking a stroll in the present, later in the evening after the opera. With the question weighing heavily on her, Julianna asks Rafael if he loved Antoinette. He answers in the affirmative and further tries to explain the nature of his relationship with Antoinette, how much she spoke of Julianna, as well as mentioning his wife, when Julianna cuts him off, not wanting to hear any more.
Rafael tells Julianna she must forgive herself, and in a moment of tenderness, kisses her. Overcome, she runs away leaving him alone on the street.
An agitated Julianna is running through the streets of Barcelona.
An agitated Julianna is taking a jog through the streets of Barcelona, where she encounters the spirit of Antoinette. Together they relive the evening of the fatal car accident, when they were arguing about Antoinette's plan to move to Barcelona to sing. Julianna's regret is overwhelming ("I SHOULD HAVE SAID" - reprise). Antoinette flies away, as Julianna follows in pursuit.
Julianna finds herself at Cafe Zurich, where Kathryn is waiting for her at a table. When Kathryn asks about Julianna's night, Julianna avoids the topic and changes the subject. Kathryn shares that she's been harmlessly flirting with a local and Julianna suggests that perhaps it's time to go home, that Kathryn is behaving irresponsibly. Amidst the tension between them, Kathryn leaves the cafe and Julianna continues to run.
1879. An Wei is running down La Rambla when Antoni catches up to her. He tries to convince her that their shared passion for art is what makes them perfect for each other, that they were meant to meet and be together ("YOUR GREATEST LOVE"). His hopes are dashed when she tells him that she is marrying the Maestro and that they will be traveling to America, where she will sing. She leaves Antoni alone on the street where he envisions what his life will be without her.
Julianna arrives at the Catalan seaside, stretching her arms out wide as the voices of inspiration sing to her ("BARCELONA" - reprise).
Antoinette appears, and Julianna knows it's time to say good bye ("I SHOULD HAVE SAID"/"FLY" - reprise). As Antoinette flies away, Rafael appears with an easel and paints. Julianna looks at him and they share a moment of happiness -- their future before them.
End of play.
Julianna arrives at La Sagrada Familia and stops in awe, taking in the magnificent basilica, as Rafael exits from the interior. Julianna leaves,
Rafael follows her and Kathryn arrives just in time to see it all happen.
1926. Antoni is working on the exterior of La Sagrada Familia, carving a figure as the voices of his creation sing to him ("BARCELONA" - reprise).
An Wei, now 69, arrives as time becomes fluid and Antoinette leads Julianna to a spot where they can observe from afar. An Wei speaks to Antoni, but he does not answer her.
An Wei continues to try to engage Antoni, but he remains absorbed in his work. She says good bye and begins to leave, but encounters Julianna, her great great granddaughter. As they speak, they realize that they both are wearing the same necklace, the one crafted by Antoni. There is a moment of recognition, and Rafael appears. Time shifts to the present and Julianna apologizes to Rafael, giving him the opportunity to explain his past, his relationship with Antoinette, and his wife.
With the misunderstandings between them cleared up and the feelings they have for each other honestly expressed, Julianna decides it's time to finally enter the basilica and find what she's been searching for.
Julianna enters La Sagrada Familia and encounters Antoni Gaudi. It is simultaneously 1926 and the present. They speak of inspiration, loss, love and art. As Antoni imparts a final word of advice to her, Julianna finds herself at the cafe, telling Kathryn all about her experience in the basilica.
Kathryn realizes that it's time to leave her friend in Barcelona where she belongs, for now. Kathryn says good bye to Julianna, who is living in possibility for the first time since her sister's death ("BREATHING IN"- reprise).