San Diego Opera to pro­duce 'Frida & Diego' about famed Mex­i­can painters

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

AS­pan­ish-lan­guage opera based on the tu­mul­tuous love story of famed Mex­i­can painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera will pre­miere in 2020 in San Diego. "The Last Dream of Frida & Diego" is be­ing co-pro­duced by San Diego Opera and Fort Worth Opera, which will be the first to present the new su­per­nat­u­rally themed work in 2020. The com­mis­sion is also be­ing un­der­writ­ten by the Col­lege of Fine Arts at the Univer­sity of Texas at Austin and DePauw Univer­sity.

Af­ter its Forth Worth de­but, the opera will be pre­sented at the Bal­boa The­atre as part of San Diego Opera's De­tour Se­ries of smaller-scale, non­tra­di­tional works. Pro­duc­tion dates have not been an­nounced. Be­cause Kahlo and Rivera are the most im­por­tant and fa­mous Mex­i­can artists of the 20th cen­tury, the co-pro­duc­ers and cre­ative team plan to make an of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment about the opera on Aug. 24 at the Pala­cio de Bel­las Artes cul­tural cen­ter in Mex­ico City.

"The Last Dream of Frida & Diego" will fea­ture a li­bretto (the oper­atic word for script and lyrics) by Pulitzer Prize-win­ning Cuban-Amer­i­can play­wright Nilo Cruz and score and lyrics by Latin Grammy Award win­ner and pi­anist Gabriela Lena Frank. The opera will be set in 1957, a month be­fore Rivera's death in Mex­ico City. On the Day of the Dead - when Mex­i­cans honor fam­ily mem­bers who've passed away - the famed mu­ral­ist walks through a ceme­tery and dreams of re­unit­ing with his former lover, the col­or­ful painter Kahlo, who died in 1954. For 24 hours, the un­der­world's keeper of souls, Ca­t­rina, re­leases Kahlo's spirit to wan­der the city with Rivera. Their tem­pes­tu­ous love story is told through song and their of­ten-au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal paint­ings.

Frank will be only the sec­ond woman com­poser to have her work pro­duced by San Diego Opera since its found­ing in 1965 (Laura Kamin­sky, whose "As One" will be pre­sented this fall, is the first). The Berke­ley-born Frank, who has been com­poser-in-res­i­dence for Hous­ton Sym­phony for the past three years, spe­cial­izes in cre­at­ing works in­spired by Latin Amer­i­can folk­lore. The com­poser-li­bret­tist team of Frank and Cruz have writ­ten nine works to­gether over the past decade, in­clud­ing a song cy­cle about Kahlo for singer Dawn Up­shaw and the St Paul Orches­tra. 'Anna in the Trop­ics'

Frank cred­its Kahlo for in­tro­duc­ing her to Cruz in Man­hat­tan in 2007. A small opera com­pany ap­proached her that year about writ­ing an opera about Kahlo, but be­cause she didn't know how to write a li­bretto, a friend in­tro­duced her to Cruz. That orig­i­nal opera was never com­mis­sioned, but she and Cruz hit it off so well they've been col­lab­o­rat­ing ever since. Cruz is best known for his stage play "Anna in the Trop­ics," which won the 2003 Pulitzer. With Peru­vian com­poser Jimmy L?pez, he adapted the 2001 novel "Bel Canto" for Lyric Opera of Chicago. He also wrote the book for Frank Wild­horn's mu­si­cal "Ha­vana."

San Diego Opera Gen­eral Direc­tor David Ben­nett said he's thrilled to be in­volved in the co-pro­duc­tion be­cause of the com­pany's com­mit­ment to new work and telling sto­ries that con­nect with lo­cal au­di­ences. "Cre­at­ing and pro­duc­ing new, in­no­va­tive works of opera helps us deepen con­nec­tions with the di­verse com­mu­nity of San Diego," Ben­nett said. "In look­ing for the right sub­ject mat­ter, the lives of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera made per­fect sense to us. Their ex­ten­sive bod­ies of work in­flu­ence cre­ative artists here in our com­mu­nity, on both sides of the bor­der." — www.sandiegounion­tri­bune.com

In this March 31, 1932 file photo, from left to right: Frances Flynn Payne, who is se­lect­ing dancers; artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo; and William C Ham­mer, artis­tic direc­tor of the Philadel­phia Grand Opera Com­pany, seen in Philadel­phia, where they are pre­par­ing the bal­let "Horse­power" at the Metropolitan. — AP

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